Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Conclave of Har Book Review: The Primarchs - Perturabo: The Hammer of Olympia by Guy Haley

Remember that wealth of emergent talent I talked about in my Magnus review? Well Guy Haley is one of the names I was thinking of. Though it could be said that he has written enough now to be considered much more than new blood.

Personally though, I had never read one of his books till Pharos. Actually scratch that, the Skaven End Times one was his and now the Blur quote for the Ogres (who’s that Gutlord marching?) makes all sorts of sense. Still, it was Pharos that I remember most. It’s one from before my own personal ‘Age of Darkness’ I experienced a while back so it didn’t get reviewed but basically, it’s unremittingly brutal, kills off characters left and right, and acts as a worthy instalment in the ‘Imperium Secundus’ arc. Seriously the Night Lords are BEYOND deranged and vicious.

It’s also a book that pretty much won me over with a couple of specific lines. There is a scene where the Ultramarine scouts (soon to die horribly) turn up and Guy describes them. He takes the time to comment on their ungainly oversized faces and explains that it is part of the initiation process, a brief hormone imbalance. In one fell swoop he makes reference to the terrible heads on the GW Scout kits and explains it away, a brilliant fourth wall breaking moment that endeared the book and the author to me right there.

He does something similar in Perturabo and I’ll get to that in a second but it’s quite far in the book and there is a fair bit to talk about first. 

Perturabo: Hammer of Olympia is the first Primarch book to do what I have expected of this series, and tell the story of the Primarch’s childhood (if you can call it that) and formative years. Gulliman chose to focus on the Ultramarines changing nature and the hard choices that the Avenging Son would have to make. Leman Russ focussed on the infamous falling out and subsequent duel with the Lion and Magnus focussed again on one particular battle where, paired up with Perturabo some great character work and foreshadowing is done. Perturabo kind of does both, giving us both the boy that was and the Demigod that is.

It starts with Perturabo first presenting himself to his adoptive father, the Tyrant Dammenekos, showing his abilities and talents as he is taken in. These sections of the book are interspersed with segments cut from the Great Crusade where the Legion are fighting the Hrud, more on that in a moment. The book flits about between the two eras, giving you a sense of the Primarch's (accelerated) development from boy to adolescent to man. We get a good sense of his character here and as in Magnus it is a stark contrast to the way we find him in the heresy. The book revisits him as he ages and gets closer and closer to his dream of unifying Olympia in a way his adoptive father could never comprehend.

This retrospective part of the book does a really good job of setting up Perturabo's motivations and relationships with the other characters both his adoptive father and also his step siblings. Perturabo’s frustration and brilliance and arrogance are highlighted superbly and the way that Guy uses the concept of Iron in a variety of different ways whilst not particularly novel is inventively done. Perturabo becomes a much talked about myth and although the concept of a ‘chosen one’ is well overused in today’s fiction it is interesting to see him best Olympia's greatest champions in challenges both mental and physical. It’s a great look at the development of a Primarch and as I have said, not really something we have had before.

Aside from this the narrative finds us at a time that seems to be late in the great crusade. Perturabo, (though he honestly doesn’t feature too much in this section) is a changed character. Embittered by the relentless and bloody tasks set for him by his father. The seeds of dissent are seemingly sown here and you can see the resentment that he feels at having his sons so needlessly thrown into the grinder though he is compelled to obey the Emperor’s seemingly vainglorious commands.

The foe that the Iron Warriors are fighting here is the Hrud. What follows is one of the most detailed depictions of any of the Xenos races that have been fought in the Great Crusade to date. Those hoping for Space Skaven may be disappointed as talk is made of long sinuous, pale and flexible limbs and nearly entirely un rat like faces. That said, they do create warrens and live underground, so some argument could be made in this favour, and like the Skaven they are far from primitive though a certain animalistic instinct is alluded to.

But the Hrud’s main weapon is time, both cloaked from sight, (incredibly hard to target they appear as little more than an inky distortion), and heralded by a perceptible chronometric anomaly. Even worse, at close quarters they exude an entropic effect so strong anything that gets too close to them ages and decays at an incredibly accelerated rate. Touching them corrodes armour and crumbles flesh and even being near them results in rapid aging, iron turning brittle within and without. Thus are the Iron Warriors being slowly destroyed, their admittedly extended mortality being laid bare as their years are literally leeched away by the combat. Those not destroyed outright becoming weak and twisted by extreme old age.

Fully a third of the legion strength is lost this way as the Iron warriors look to eradicate the Hrud from a system claimed by the Emperor. The action is well written and you really do get a feeling of the Iron Warriors being totally up against it in a way that hasn’t really been portrayed before. They simply are not designed for this kind of conflict. Even the survivors from this engagement will be of little use in future battles. You get the impression this is a grievous loss for the Legion and Perturabo’s frustration is palpable and taken out on his son’s unremittingly for their failures in the campaign. This is where he sets his sons to devising a strategy to defeat the Hrud getting them to run simulations, some of which they do with hololiths and some of which they do by moving wooden blocks and rolling ten sided dice (must be playing second edition) Yep. Space Marines playing 40k, (more or less) it doesn’t get much more self referential than that!

It must be noted that there is a marked difference in this portrayal of Perturabo to that in the previous book, Magnus The Red by Graham McNeill. Perhaps there was some collaboration as a few characters do cross over, but this Perturabo is much changed from the relatively benevolent figure that was so omnipresent in Grahams story. Guy’s Perturabo is a much colder and quicker to anger example of the Iron Warriors Primarch, and presumably older, further on in the crusade in a time where the zeal of ambition has been replaced with a grinding inevitability of death.

Of course much of this could be attributed to his current situation, his sons being ground down in this endless entropic stalemate as neither side can claim decisive victory, the IV Legion slaughtering Hrud but taking heavy losses themselves. The Iron Warriors ARE losing but very slowly. I guess you could look at it as a Heresy era Vietnam, sent where they don’t want to be, fighting a war against a shadowy foe they cannot defeat and compelled through duty to stay and fight. A war of attrition that they are destined to lose. Growing increasingly bitter at an Emperor that commands from afar. It is no wonder then that when news reaches them of Olympia’s secession from the Imperium that Perturabo immediately heads for his home planet in order to ‘clean house’. This is literally in the last couple of chapters in the book and let’s just say he isn’t gentle. I won’t say anymore about the climax here, my reviews are mostly spoiler free where possible. It’s reasonably predictable in any event.

This really is a great book, well written and once again sets a new bar for the series, one that I feel may be hard to match. Guy does a great job in fleshing out Perturabo and the reader gains a perception of both the man that he was and COULD have been, and the man that we end up with, bitter and ground down by relentless fighting. The Hrud are also superbly realised and are more alien than anything that has come before, being far from another xenos race to be wiped out. Should they ever become a fully fledged race and ranged in 40k they would be refreshingly different and unlike anything we have at the moment. It’s really quite well done and crafted and although the contrast in this Perturabo to the much more likeable version in the previous Primarch book is jarring it is understandable and relatable and just as Magnus’s book represented a tipping point you feel this one does for Perturabo as the concepts of fairness and mercy are lost leaving hard unrelenting heavy Iron, within and Without. Pick this one up, it really is a great read, Gav Thorpe’s Lorgar is up against it.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Conclave of Har Product Review: Puppet Wars Resin Magnetized Wound Counters

So with the advent of Eighth Edition one thing has become an absolute necessity, no I don’t mean the Indexes (which are rapidly being FAQed out of relevance, nor do I mean specialised movement gadgets or objectives. (Both of which I’ll review in another Article) I mean WOUND COUNTERS!

Yep, that’s right, in 8th EVERYTHING has wounds, and most of it has more wounds. Characters wounds went up and now Vehicles have wounds. With Superheavies packing well over twenty wounds and a Stompa having FORTY!

So how do you track these wounds? Well GW would have you use their special D10s. In all honesty I found these the very worst option. They get knocked over far too easily to another value and you have to remember what they initially said, which lets be honest, is kind of what you are trying NOT to have to do in the first place.

Another option! Write them all down on paper or on your roster. Yes you could do but this book keeping is kind of what we are trying to get away from and some things can recover wounds (regeneration, Techpriests, Living Metal) so it could be a lot of crossing out and easy to make a mistake as you look at the scribbled mess you have made.

Ok, so it’s back to physical representation then. Tokens? Well, they are ok for small amount of wounds I guess but will soon get unwieldy when you are trying to track the damage on a 28 wound Wraithknight. Erm, how about REALLY SMALL dice, those aren’t knocked over quite so easily. This is true but they are light and can easily fall off a tank or base and unless you want lots of dice on there it’s hard to track high numbers. They are also fiddly to place if you have sausage fingers.

Normal sized D6s then? Ok, easier to place, take up more space though and you still need 9 to track a Stompa's wounds, but normal dice have one MASSIVE drawback, especially if you play against me. I’ll pick them up and roll them. EVERY. DAMN. TIME. They just aren’t practical.

So it was up to someone else to come up with a solution. Thankfully it didn’t take long and Puppet Wars swiftly produced a series of resin trackers that were magnetized so they could spin and track wounds.  Wonderful! They made one for single digit tracking and one for up to 99 wounds (nothing has more than that just yet)

I ordered one set of each immediately. And waited.

And waited and waited... Man  Puppet Wars are NOT fast, it took them over two weeks to pick up and ship my order. These things must be popular. It must be said that once they WERE sent they arrived pretty quickly but be prepared to wait if you do order some. Still I got them at last and checked them out, after all they had to be reviewed.

And it must be said they are pretty nifty. Well designed and good looking. I would have to challenge the quality of the resin used, there were more than a few bubbles and in a couple of cases this caused a very minor amount of damage. As these are just for tracking wound’s I’m not so bothered but if it had actually been a model I think I would have been more annoyed. Had enough of bubbles with finecast.

Still, other than that they were fine. A fair bit of cleaning up to do but no deal breaker, they also come with all the magnets you need for assembly (which may explain the relatively high cost) and are straightforward to assemble, although there are a couple of places you could slip up so lets cover those now real quick.

The dials numbered 1-10 are for the SINGLE counters the ones 0-9 are for the doubles. Yeah i know it’s common sense but I just put all the bits in a pile and put them together from there, not the best option, don’t do that!

Secondly, polarity. The magnets that Puppet Wars provide are STRONG. Really good quality neodymium magnets, so strong that even after assembly you can pick up one wound tracker with another. You won’t actually even need to use them all, but we’ll get to that in a sec. If you try to match up the polarity before your superglue has fully dried then you WILL just rip the magnet straight out again. I actually found the best way to do the single ones was to glue the magnet into the housing and then you can actually check the polarity from the other side through the resin to ensure your dial has the magnet facing the right way.

With the double number ones you really just need to make sure that the numbers line up correctly so you don’t have one upside down. I forgot but somehow by sheer luck and perhaps the Emperor’s  guidance they all lined up anyway.  When it comes to the magnets you would normally use four, one for each dial and then one for each side of the housing. I actually found that the magnets are so strong that you only need a magnet in one side of the housing (which gives you less chance to screw up the polarity!) and the Dials will grip just fine. For the record I did try using NO magnets in the housing and while the magnets in the dials ARE strong enough to hold the dials together through the resin they were a little looser that I would have liked and i decided against it. Still, free magnets! My Knight weapons thank you Puppet Wars.

Once cleaned the resin takes paint just fine and then it is up to you what you want to do with them. I’ve opted for something a bit different and used Black light paint! Works pretty well too, (see pic)

So overall impressions:

They are a great product, they do their job superbly, are well designed and really look the part. On the down side the quality is slightly subpar and they are by far the most expensive option (about 30 Euros for 5 single and 5 double markers.) However they are so superior to all the other options that we explored above that I do actually think that they are worth it, the 20 magnets that are supplied alone would cost a fair bit. In addition PW have now produced a variety of designs so you have even more choice.

Check them out here:

Friday, 28 July 2017

Conclave of Har Book Review: Magnus the Red - Master of Prospero by Graham McNeill

Although there is a wealth of emerging new talent in the Black Library there is something very reassuring in reading a book by one of the ‘classic’ authors. In this case one of the Horus Heresy Alumni, here managing to continue to write for the Black Library despite working elsewhere. Within reading the first few pages of Magnus the Red it feels like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes as the flow of the prose and class of the writing assert themselves and by the end of the first chapter I knew I was in for a treat. However, the book still proved capable of a surprise or two. I have to say, I did wonder if Graham felt the same sense of familiarity in writing the book as I did reading it, as he eases back into references to Corvidae and Pavoni in no time, effortlessly picking up the terminology he established in A Thousand Sons all that time ago. (Seven years now!)

Set in the early days of the Crusade, the narrative sees Magnus and Perturabo tasked with the evacuation of a compliant planet  named Morningstar which is quite literally falling apart. Although saving everyone is impossible, they are resolute in their intention to save as many of the populace as possible. 

It is quite jarring to see these two Primarchs portrayed displaying so much compassion and in such a heroic light.  Of course Magnus’s prime motivation is actually the knowledge that will be lost with Morningstar’s destruction and the people are a secondary consideration, though he does ensure his sons play their part in the evacuation efforts.  Ergo it is actually PERTURABO who comes off as the more humane here, though he is of course calculating and arrogant in his execution. Graham adds a up to now unseen facet to the Iron Warriors Primarch and he really shines, threatening to steal the limelight from Magnus in his own book, which seems a little unfair given the next scheduled title IS Perturabo.

Of course the evacuation doesn’t go smoothly or this would be a pretty boring (though at the same time unique! ) Heresy Tale. It transpires that there is a rogue faction on Morningstar. A cult, called the Sons of Shaitan.

Graham, really? Morningstar? Shaitan/Satan? Bit close to the mark there and I felt it came across as a bit lazy, though to be honest Mr McNeill has probably earned a free pass at this point. I think we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Misgivings about the identity of the antagonist aside however they certainly throw an almighty spanner into the works of the evacuation effort of the two Legions.  You see the Sons of Shaitan (sigh) don’t WANT to leave the planet, they want to stay and die and ascend.  Problem is they don’t want anyone else to leave either. Cue lots and lots of sabotage and destruction  as they try to ensure as many die on Morningstar as possible.

This obviously gives the Astartes a lot more to do than evacuate a panicked populace. Plenty of action follows, though an author of Graham’s class would never fall into the trap of resorting to outright bolter porn and keeps things moving at a brisk pace . He deftly distinguishes the two legion’s approach to combat with the Thousand Sons using their powers freely (so presumably this is all before Nikea) and the Iron Warriors falling back on tactics and disciplined Bolter Fire.  Most of this centres around Arthava and Forrix as Graham once again ties into his 40k Iron Warrior novels.

These scenes of action and calamity also call the Primarchs into action with Magnus getting a standout scene in which to display his heroism. It’s really well written and I don’t wish to spoil it here, you’ll recognise it when you get to it.  He is not alone either, all the loyalist forces on the planet are sorely tested and events are fairly epic with the action proceeding at an appreciable pace. Time and time again the Astartes are challenged as the planned evacuation threatens to become a wholesale massacre.

However, this is Magnus’s book and his overwhelming desire for knowledge causes him to send a squad of his sons off to explore a location he has seen in a vision, believing the secrets of Morningstar to be buried there. Athough at the time this seems to be superfluous addition to the book, threatening to derail what has up to this point been a fairly tight narrative, I can assure you that it does in fact serve a purpose to the overreaching arc. It may not be obvious at first as it comes across as a little clumsy but it sets up several important relationships, and of course the shocking climax to the book. I’ll not say more here, these are spoiler free reviews.

So that is Magnus the Red – Master of Prospero. While a long way from Graham’s very best work it is nonetheless a wonderful treat to read his writing again. So far it ranks as the best Primarch book, being a fair bit more complex than previous efforts, setting up multiple future narratives and arcs.  There is an excellent mix of characterisation and action and some great work is done to humanise these two Primarchs, presenting a profound compassion that we have not really seen before. It’s very jarring given we know how these Primarchs end up.

And in general I think that the Traitor Primarchs will be the better books of this series as we are confronted with a stark contrast to their characters as we know them from the Heresy.  With Purturabo and Lorgar next up we should have some excellent stories ahead. For now Magnus The Red comes highly recommended and I’m greatly looking forward to The Crimson King as he returns to the Heresy Proper. I have a backlog there though so have Praetorian of Dorn and Master of Mankind to get out of the way first.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Conclave of Har Book Review: Leman Russ: The Great Wolf By Chris Wraight

It seems an age since I have written a book review but then, it has been a long time since I have been able to read a book (See my article 'Confessions of a Depressed Hobbyist for more on this). Sadly I could no longer trust myself to pen an impartial review as I was no longer enjoying reading. I first noticed it with Cybernetica, a book I shall have to now revisit. Upon finishing the novella I realised I could not tell if I had enjoyed it or not. I honestly just didn't really have any impression left on me by it. It was at this stage I stopped reviewing books.

But it was Leman Russ: The Great Wolf that stopped me READING. Already nonplussed by the Gulliman novel I had hoped that a book by one of my favourite authors might  lift me a little. Alas it was not to be. I barely made it half way through before I became unable to read more than half a page before losing focus, unable to remember the words I had just read.

And that, was the last time I read anything except White Dwarf or a comic, for a long time. In the intervening months three separate Heresy novels have been released. Thankfully this Dark Age was only temporary (if somewhat recurrent) and I now find myself able to enjoy reading books again.

It was straight back to Leman Russ that I turned, though I found that I did need to re-read the whole thing more or less as my recollection was very fuzzy. Thankfully a re-read is far from a chore as for the most part this is a VERY enjoyable effort from Mr Wraight. A little hard to track at times maybe and it casts a bit of confusion over the Lion Sword but it's a fun and compelling read.

The book features a framing device which shows a young Aspirant's trial against the Canis Helix and then jumps to him being  a full fledged Blood Claw in the Space Wolves Chapter. Yes that's right, Chapter, set after the Heresy and after the disbanding of the Legions. `Its a little hard to place the EXACT time period but one can deduce that it's not long after before the scouring as Russ features and although he is a reclusive and rarely seen figure the Primarchs are clearly still around.

So Leman of the Russ recounts a tale of the only time he was beaten other than by the Allfather (Emperor) and many will know straight away that he is referring to the infamous spat with his Brother Lion'el Jonson. The next hundred pages or so tell of the events that lead up to that falling out and duel including the main event itself.

As one would expect the book is well written, free flowing and descriptive with the two brothers being particularly well realised and a good depiction of the different way the two Legions operate and wage void war. The Dark Angels being very ordered and disciplined with boarding actions and the Wolves being wild and hunting in packs with wild abandon. This then leads to a misunderstanding between the Legions before the war is persecuted further on the ground. Both Legions are required to bring the planet to heel but the honour of the final kill is to be Russes. Of course things rarely go to plan in this universe and the two Brothers end up clashing in the infamous duel.

There is a subplot that revolves around the Canis Helix and therefore ties into the framing device from earlier, it does directly affect the main thrust of the story as it is made quite clear that these aberrations are a new development in the legion and that they do not quite know how to handle it as one Legionnaire goes feral and disappears. Thus is the changing nature of the Legion made manifest and the secrecy that they must maintain.

But it is the Primarch's that take center stage here, the relationship between the two brothers is the heart of the book and given that this is likely the only time that this infamous duel is going to appear in print. That reason alone is enough to pick up this book. Also of note is the contrast of portrayal of Leman  before, and after the Heresy. Before, during the crusade he is the Alpha Wolf, cunning, bold, vicious and vital. In the framing sections he is hoary, bitter, a grizzled old Wolf. Still dangerous and still the Alpha but changed and ground down by years and years of fighting.It's quite the change and it's the first real indication of the toll that the Heresy takes upon the Primarchs as Russ bemoans what has happened to his Wolves.

So overall, yes I ENJOYED this book a great deal. Chris does a brilliant job on it, delivering a nuanced and believable portrayal of the Primarchs that stands out as a highlight even amongst the excellent and plentiful action scenes.  More to the point I am reading again and have moved onto Magnus the Red : Master of Prospero by Graham McNeil, now that promises to be a superb book..

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Conclave Guest Game Review: Dawn of War 3

Mike is back, this time with a review of the new hotness that is Dawn of War 3 (which I haven't actually played yet) Take it away Mike!

Firstly Apologies for the lateness of this review, I’m well aware that the game has been out a few weeks by now and that there are countless reviews online already.  Secondly this is my first review so apologies for any rambling. (no worries Mike, readers are well used to my ramblings by now - Al) 

Dawn of War is one of my favourite PC games of all time, met only by the mighty Tie Fighter and Secret of Monkey Island.  I still play it to this day, Dark Crusade and Soul storm regularly get a play through when I’m bored and fancy some action.  I was slightly disappointed with the release of Dawn of War 2, the game was fun and I liked the RPG levelling up of my heroes but it missed the chaos of building a base then a massive force and sending a tide of Marines and Dreadnoughts across the battlefield to wipe out my foes. (DIE, DIE, DIE!! sorry -Al)  When Sega bought out THQ Games a few years ago it was said that the Dawn of War series was done for and that we’d never see a third installment, even though the request for a third addition arose frequently from fans. 

A year ago I saw a reveal trailer for DOW3 and my heart leapt for joy, even more so when I heard that base building would be back.  Phenomenal. Imagine huge armies with today’s graphics smashing into hordes of armies, needless to say this bad boy was going to be pre-ordered.

I was lucky enough to play the beta back in late March and was impressed by the graphics although had a few concerns but put this down to only playing multi-player (no campaign missions were available) and only being allowed to play against human opponents as there was no AI option.

Upon release of the full game I dived straight into the campaign looking forward to playing the Blood Ravens again (a silly faction, that really probably should have been replaced by a bone-fide faction from GW but I understand why they made one up because then they don’t particularly have to stay on message with the lore).  

My first game was great, the bases are back with all the building choices from before, some have changed, no longer can you build an Armoury and upgrade units to carry Heavy Bolters, you have to build a separate building, the Doctrine Chapel and deploy Heavy Bolters. The Armoury is still there but used solely to increase health and damage of units along with some unit minor upgrades.

There were a few changes.  No longer could you just recruit Gabriel Angelos, he is now an elite character that you can spend Elite Points on (a new form of resource, obtainable from certain requisition points) along with two other elite slots that later on in the game you can change out to suit your needs, I prefer to swap my librarian for Terminators for example, there is access to an Imperial Knight but it will cost you 9 elite points and these build up gradually so you may wait a while before being able to deploy it.  Each elite has special attacks that are devastating to normal units, it’s a cool mechanic as it melds DOW1 and DOW2 play methods together fairly seamlessly.   

I do have a few niggles with the game however, the biggest one is the lack of an auto save feature.  As you play through a mission, it unfolds in stages, you start with one objective then another one unfolds when you complete the previous and the map expands with the mission.  However, there is no auto save feature so you can be playing along and get right to the end only to fall foul of a HUGE Ork horde thinking you’d go back to the previous objective. But no, you go straight back to the beginning.  It’s really frustrating, for example once my PC just crashed and I’d literally just finished the mission only for everything to be wiped.  I know it’s my fault as I should have saved regularly but in this day and age where most games save as you go, you feel like you’re being punished for not being a die-hard saver.

Second niggle is, no turrets.  There is a drop pod that has Storm Bolters inside it which is nice but it’s not the same as capturing a point and being able to drop two or three turrets by the important points to help defend them.  You can still build listening posts but these are just a single turret but they aren’t as hardy as they were before and they can’t be upgraded.  The ability to reinforce troops on the field is gone, and as such you have to send the troops back to base to reinforce them (there is an upgrade that allows reinforcement at requisition points but this costs unlock skulls). 

Thirdly there are only 3 factions, that’s it.  No Necrons, no Tau, not even Chaos.  But if the game is a success (fingers crossed) then expansions will fill the gaps, if they made the expansions with similar game mechanics to Dark Crusade or Soulstorm (where you have to take on a planet or a system) I’ll be the first in line with my money (TAKE IT ALL DAMMIT) 

The last niggle is quite a big one and one that I’ve seen mentioned a few times.  Playing through the campaign you start as marines but the next mission you play as Eldar, then the next you play as Orks.  It’s good in the sense that you can get used to playing the other factions but I’m not a huge fan of the chopping and changing. 

Eldar, aren’t tailored to my play style and using them is a bit of a chore.  However the Orks are fantastic, funny and they have some nice mechanics.  Being able to build some units from scrap piles (that are either pulled down from space by waaaaggghhhh towers or left behind from fallen enemy vehicles) is a nice touch, also units such as Boyz, Nobz, Shootas etc can upgrade themselves from scrap piles and increase accuracy or armour.  

Each faction has access to many different elite units like the Marines, particular favourites are Striking Scorpions for the Eldar and the trundling behemoth the Morkanaught (or Gorkanaught).  I have to add, it’s nice to see the foot of Gork (or Mork) as a special ability of the weird boyz, although the animation is tame, I’d have love to have seen a comical Monty Python-esque foot appearing out of the warp and squishing stuff.

Some people have stated that this method of play (the switching of factions as you go) feels like a massive tutorial for the multiplayer, and I can see why.  As you progress you get access to more and more goodies, so in the beginning you get access to just the basics and when you get a grip with those you start to learn about other mechanics (such as the devastating mega bomb – Marines: Orbital Strike, Orks: Meteor strike, Eldar: warp storm).  It feels like a natural learning curve but I get why people are saying it’s a tutorial for multiplayer.

Speaking of which, the multiplayer mode is a lot of fun, 1v1 2v2 or 3v3 are the default modes so anyone hoping for an 8 player mash up might be a little disappointed.  Having said that I regularly play 3v3 with two mates against AI which always lead to large amounts of carnage.  The mechanic of the multiplayer is thus:  Destroy a shield generator, destroy a turret (a substantial beam weapon that will knock you down if you try and take it out before the shield generator) then destroy a power core.

I know that some people miss the old way which was just destroy the base.  We play on Casual mode and it provides a big challenge for us (although we’re probably crap lol), just last night we were up against Orks, and the green tide was lapping close to the power generator when I sent my squads up the flanks and destroyed the power generator and we won.  I’ve only played a handful of games against real opponents and a few of them had forgotten about the mechanic and as such I won games that I probably shouldn’t have, not sure how long that will last.

Lastly the graphics are fabulous, the maps are nice and balanced and the details are lovely.  As the war rages on the field gets heavily scared and carnage is abundant, burnt out wrecks of whirlwinds and dreadnaughts litter the pock marked maps and the earth is scorched.  The squad limit is 250 in most games and I’ve never really reached that number of troops but even with a sizeable battalion it looks impressive.  Requisition tumbles in quite slowly so I can’t ever see me filling the army size (another tip: upgrade your requisition points to produce more req.). 

Ultimately DOW3 is a good game, is it perfect and all that I hoped it would be?  No but it’s better than nothing which was the alternative.  You only get three factions that’s it.  It’s screaming out for expansions and I’ll be amazed if they didn’t get announced soon.  It seems like they were playing it safe, not investing too much into developing more factions because the game may not sell (a PC only release isn’t a safe bet anymore and I admire the courage it took to bring the game out).  It’ll be interesting to see what factions come next and whether they will be able to bring Tyranids to the game as previously stated they said that they couldn’t do that faction as the DOW1 engine would not handle the army numbers, I think it’ll look amazing to see a horde of gaunts followed by a flying hive tyrantJ.

I run a fairly old rig now with an old i7 and a radeon 7950 on a clapped out asus sabretooth motherboard.  The game runs fine (although the fans blow loud during a game lol), with no lag.  Despite my niggles, of which I have listed them out, mostly the game is enjoyable, and finding a group of mates to play online will only increase the fun factor. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Conclave of Har 'Micro' Tutorial - Rust effects.

The Conclave was or originally set up to showcase mine and Lee's hobby, just a way of showing what we were up to and it didn't really matter if people engaged but it was nice if they did.

Little did we know that what we were actually starting was a community. The Conclave is many (maybe not Legion but many) now and from time to time we have Guest Writers, from guest reviews to Dan's Tech Bay we are ALWAYS open to more people contributing. A: It widens perspective a little, and B: As I have alluded to in a previous article I just cannot do it on my own anymore (Lee is invariably too busy these days to write much.)

And Mike Row has stepped up to the plate with a splendid tutorial on rust effects with loads of tips. Mike paints his stuff at a rate that makes me cry, ('Finished 12 Walkers today guys! - Oh great Mike, I've painted a face, like half a Scouts face') and fingers crossed he has loads more ideas that he can share with us in the future. So here we go, a 'Micro' Tutorial (Mike Row/Micro?.... oh forget it!)

Take it away Mike!

This tutorial is going to demonstrate how to add a nice rust effect on your miniatures and scenery.  There are plenty of good videos on Youtube to look at but here’s my take on it.  For this demonstration I’ll be using the Walking Dead All Out War scenery kit, as I find non Games Workshop kits are harder to find tutorials on, but this method will work on anything.

Barricades from the scenery set basecoated with GW’s Leadbelcher

The barricade was washed liberally with GW’s Nuln Oil Gloss wash, the gloss gives the metallic a nice shine.

It was then washed with GW’s Agrax Earthshade this gives the barricade a dirty look.

I then applied GW’s Typhus Corrosion in areas where rust would likely appear, in terms of the panels water would collect at the bottom and thus that’s where rust would appear first, it would also collect in folds and between the individual panels.  Use an old brush for the corrosion paint as it contains a fine grain and will likely get caught in between the bristles so will damage brushes.

I then drybrushed on GW’s Ryza Rust over the corrosion paint, the fine grains will attract the paint off the brush and will not really stick onto the metallic paint unless you use a lot of pressure.  The picture below shows my tissue paper I used to wipe the excess paint off the brush, you want to be aiming for the marked area of the paper.  It’s better to start slowly and build the colour up over a period of time, rather than sloshing on too much and making it look too orange.

I added a further wash of Athonian Camoshade to further add a grimy look to barricade.

The car on the right has just the corrosion paint whereas the car on the left has the added Ryza Rust.

Both trucks have only Typhus Corrosion applied here. 

The truck on the right has the added Ryza Rust, it is quite heavy on the area of impact but then less as it goes up the bonnet, also I dry brushed some Leadbelcher on other areas of the bonnet near the rust to show some areas where rust has yet to corrode the metal.  

Nice one! Cheers Mike, some ideas there I would definitely not have thought of. Can't wait to see what you come up with next! 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Shadow Wars Armageddon Game Report.

Scout Sergeant Apollyon lowered his mag-nocs, checked his chronometer and scowled. The enemy were late, this wasn't part of the the plan. He activated his long range vox.
'Base, this is Apollyon, confirm time of estimated enemy contact'
The vox in his ear cracked and hissed. Communications had proven to be problematic of late, following a number of pitched battles his squad had been pushed further into the depths of Hive Acheron, the tall structures and haphazard myriad radiations had plagued any signals from base, he adjusted his vox settings and strained to listen for any reply. Though squeals of static he discerned a response.
'Apollyon, Base. Tim... ... ... mated Xenos contact confirmed. La... .....rts have the greenskins within 500 metres...... .... position. They should ...... right ... you. Hol..  ...sition.'
'Base, Apollyon, confirmed .'
He shut off the vox and scowled again, to his right were Orosius and Zakian. Both of them swept their area in front of them with their bolters. A glance from Zakian was all he needed to confirm they too had not sighted the greenskins. He thumbed his vox again, choosing the short range setting this time.
'Aryius. talk to me, any sighting of the greenskin filth?' as he spoke he raised his mag-nocs, peering into the darkness through the devices enhanced optics, even his superhuman senses couldn't detect any Ork activity..
Nothing here Sergeant, this, isn't right, the Orks aren't subtle, they don't hide, we should be able to SMELL them from here. 
They will come brother, the Ork are a force of nature, they are relentless and formidable but they are predictable, you, Caeon and Nikaeon need to continue your vigilance'
Aye sergeant, we'll see them from up here, The Emperor protects'
Apollyon looked up at the snipers position in nearby building, in such an elevated and concealed position the field of fire they were afforded would leave the orks no chance, whenever they chose to appear. The practicals were in place and the theoreticals were covered.
That he does brother, that he does, he murmured.

Boss Snikbang! eased himself over the corroded pipe, carefully placing his booted feet down onto a dry patch of flooring so as not to cause any unnecessary noise. He had managed to get far enough into the Hive interior zones that he could see the winking lights of the 'oomie perimeter defences through the gloom ahead. Around him he was sure his boys were getting into position, good lads the lot of them. It wasn't just their stealth skills that marked them out but their spanking shiny boots and the way they threw a crisp salute whenever he uttered an order. Proper Blood Axes. 

Boss Snikbang! studied what was ahead. The dense jumble of coolant pipes that he and the boys had crossed to get this far were opening out and he could see streets separating a collection of walkways and bulkier machinery. He went to give the signal to advance, three light taps on the pipe in front of him.


Snikbang froze. His jaw hanging open. He was a tough boy and could punch the head right of a 'oomie if he needed to but he had tried to be gentle when giving the signal.


Now that was odd. He hadn't even hit the pipe that time. Snikbang! looked around to see if he could figure out who was making that racket. He threw a nervous glance towards the'oomie compound in case one of them squishy zoggers heard the noise and came to investigate. 


That had come from his right, or left, Snikbang! never bothered to learn the terms. His axe hand or his lobbing hand was how he remembered them, got to have a system his old drill sergeant had said. He looked in the direction denoted by his lobbing hand, out in the open, strolling along without a care in the world was a spanna boy. He held a fancy looking shoota in one hand and a gleaming hammer in the other. The hammer looked new. As Snikbang! watched the spanna boy was looking at a large piece of machinery. He prodded it with his foot, licked it, had  a think about the taste then whacked it three times with his hammer.


What the zog?! Before Snikbang could get up to go smack the spanna boy with his own hammer he heard another commotion coming from his axe hand side. He heard whooping and something else, a ululating rumble of sound that echoed off the pipes creating a sound like nervous thunder. Then a group of odd looking lads burst out into the open. Madboys! They were shaking their fists at the sky and hollering at some unseen foe, only stopping to bend over and let rip with some of the loudest flatulation he'd ever heard towards the 'oomies' outpost.

The 'oomies! Snikbang! looked over towards where the lights were blinking. He could hear something else, the ring of booted feet on walkways. Squinting he made out a bunch of the smaller beakie type 'oomies taking up firing positions and aiming out towards the madboys and the spanna boy with the hammer. 
"Zog me." grumbled Snikbang! That had torn it. He stood up and whacked his choppa on a nearby pipe, sounding the charge order. His lads emerged from cover and as one they began a march towards the 'oomie's position. He'd have to do it the old orky way. 

Right, following on from my review of Shadow Wars we decided to get a few games in, we were requested to do a write up for it so here we go!

I've already played one game (a four way battle with Genestealer Cult Orks and Chaos Marines that I had managed to prevail in with only a head wound to my Sergeant. (causing him to suffer from frenzy). The promethium I had gained (just one poxy barrel) had enabled me to get a Heavy Bolter for my Scout Gunner. One of my bolter scouts had been chosen to advance in the last game and had got the skill Hipshooter, he could run and shoot - albeit with a minus 1 to hit.

Lee on the other hand, had a fresh mob. Now, unlike Necromunda there do not appear to be any rules for underdogs, meaning that if a fresh kill team goes up against a more advanced one they will be at a major disadvantage and won't even get a bonus to experience at the end. Time will tell if this proves to be a problem but with no experience per se in the game anyway it seems that it will be something that is difficult to resolve.

So, Roll Call! (It's worth noting that Lee in typical Lee fashion had names and behaviours for ALL his Orks before the game started whilst I was still referring to Bolter dude with Helmet and Heavy Bolter guy. Suitably shamed I have now named all my Kill Team members.

Scout Squad Apollyon:

  • Sgt Apollyon (Head Wound - Frenzy)
  • Scout Trooper Orosian - Bolter
  • Scout Trooper Nakius - Bolter - Hipshooter
  • Scout Trooper Aeryius - Sniper Rifle - Toxic Rounds and Reload
  • Scout Trooper Caeon - Sniper Rifle - Reload
  • Scout Gunner Nikaeon - Heavy Bolter

The Sneaky Boom Bangs! (all armed with a shiv and squighide armour 6+)

  • Nob Snikbang! (The exclamation mark is important, he insists on it) - big choppa, stikk bomb and kombi-shoota
  • Klank, Spanna boy - slugga and big shoota
  • 4 Blood Axe Boys all armed with a slugga and choppa - Stretch, Skrabble, Whao and Steddy Baz
  • 4 Yoofs all armed with a slugga and choppa - Wobblz, Hatz, Squelch and Happy Zug

We rolled for sides, Lee won and chose his and got first turn, we were just playing a straight up fight so it would be till one team bottled. We completely forgot to roll on the conditions table though. Lee deployed right at the front of his deployment zone, a very agressive stance from the greenskins. I on the other hand, set up my Snipers and Heavy Bolter in elevated positions and the remainder of my Scouts in the bunker. Perfect tactical positioning. The only thing I would need to be careful of was Sgt Apollyon charging off into trouble due to his frenzy.

Orks are made for twatting stuff up close so that was my plan hence deploying forward. I had plenty of boys so made sure my yoofs were front and centre. Snikbang and one of his lads set up on the right flank whilst the rest of the boyz made themselves conspicuous.

Orks Turn 1:

I got to go first so did the only sensible thing and ran everyone forward. Most went straight for cover and Snikbang! sneakily sidled over to hunker down behind some cargo containers, whistling nonchalantly as he went.

Scouts Turn 1:

There was no reason at all for my Scouts to move. Well out of charge range I didn't need to worry about my Sergeant's frenzy either. Therefore I stood my ground and opened fire:

Orosius fired at one of Lee's Yoofs - Happy Zug, happy he might be but he was pinned by fire, though I failed to wound.

Nakius took down Stretch with his bolter but promptly ran out of ammo. That was a problem, it was early in the game and he had no reload or other weapons. Worse still, he was my guy with Hipshooter, though I had no plans to run round the battlefield at present. Still the Ork falling to the ground face down was enough to unnerve Lee's Spanner Boy Klank and the cowardly Greenskin promptly scarpered to the nearest cover. Steddy Baz stuck around though, seemingly unbothered by his fellow's fate. Lee had named his Orks well it seemed.

Aeryius sighted down his Sniper Rifle and took down Wobbles, the Ork slumping to the floor in a pool of blood. Down but not out. Sgt Apollyon and Nikaeon went into Overwatch, waiting for a target to present itself.

Orks Turn 2:

Klank had scarpered like a right git but it didn't take long for him to come back to his senses. Actually, he had dropped his poncy new hammer and was going back to retrieve it. Squelch, dancing to and fro, hopping from foot to foot noticed that the open door of the Ferratonic Furnace looked like a porta-drops and dashed in to relieve himself. So as to make thing a bit interesting we decided that this was potentially hazardous so decided to roll for what happened, agreeing on a table of events prior to rolling the dice.

  • 1: Falls in - removed from game
  • 2-3: Constipated - roll next turn
  • 4+: Took a wrong turn and has appeared on top of the Furnace and able to move normally. This would save him a good deal of movement.

(I readily agreed to this, these sort of things add so much fun to games and are one of the reasons that Lee and I have remained such firm adversaries over the years. Lee plays Ork very well (I'm not an Ork person) and already his Kill Team was proving full of character.)

Rolling turned up a six! A confused Squelch appeared on top of the furnace. Still needing to go he wondered around looking for another spot to relieve himself which coincidentally took him towards the Scout's positions.

Snikbang!poked his head out from around the side of the corner and promptly ducked back again as five heavy bolter shots impacted on the side of his cover, Nikaeon's overwatch had failed to hit him, phew. Waiting for a moment to make sure no further fire was coming his way Snikbang! let rip with his kombi-shoota. Two sustained fire dice gave him enough shots to pin Nikaeon behind cover but not much else.

This wasn't the only patient scout, Apollyon pinned Whap who thought he was in more cover than he turned out to be. That's two Orks on the floor but more still mobile.

Scout turn 2:

With my only Objective being to get rid of Lee I still had no reason to move. Sadly this meant Lee was rather running a gauntlet. I couldn't feel too sorry for him though, sympathy for the Xenos is heresy.

Apollyon took careful aim and pinned Waap again before Orosian took him Out Of Action with disciplined Bolter Fire. Lee would be taking Bottle Tests from here on.

Caeon managed to pin Boss Snikbag! This was a good thing, the large Ork posed quite a threat. I'd rather he was down but stalling him flat on his back was better than nothing.

Aeryius spotted Squelch on top of the walkway in the gloom. A clear shot, a quick exhale as he pulled the trigger and Squelch was down, stumbling from the walkway and nearly landing on Hatz below. Thankfully Hatz dodged just in time, though he scarpered anyway. Squlech on the other hand was immensely fortunate and landed on his head. Suffering only one wound which Lee managed to save on a six no less! Aeryius had hit on a six but thankfully passed his ammo test.

Nikaeon recovered from being Pinned, he couldn't go into Overwatch, I'd have to hope he could escape Lee's attention for a turn. Nakius meanwhile glared impotently through the sights of his empty bolter.

Ork Turn 3:

Bottle tests on leadership seven. Passed this turn, the muffled swearing coming from the direction of Snikbang! enough to convince the boys to stay in the fight. Hatz wasn't having any of it though and failed to rally from last turn and ran into cover.

Klank, as well as testing his new hammer on any and every solid surface had also brought along his newly kustomised big shoota. He opened up on Orosian but in typically Orky fashion missed with all of his shots.

The madboy yoofs were rather enjoying writhing on the ground so stayed there but none of the boys was squishy so they stuck around. Boss Snikbang! got up to show the lads what they should be doing.

Scouts Turn 4:

Nikaeon went back on Overwatch, that Boss was bound to make a break for it at some point and the Heavy Bolter was my best chance of putting him down for good. Apollyon lead by example and took out Shank with a perfect Bolt Pistol Shot.  Thus far his frenzy hadn't been a problem though it must be noted we're assuming that they were M4 where they are actually M5! Ridiculous!

Aryius scored a flesh wound on Klank, passing another Ammo test in the process.

Ork Turn 4:

Cowardly lot them beakies, not that any of them had them beakie helmets. What a swoz. The boys passed their bottle test and stayed in the fight for another turn. Snikbang! burst from cover, pegging it towards the tower opposite that would lead to the entrenched snipers and Nikaeon. He was forced to run a gauntlet of overwatch fire, Nikaeon having to pass an initiative test in order to overcome his surprise at Snikbang!'s sudden appearance and succeeding. Even with a -2 to hit he scored a wound. Snikbang! had two to begin with so didn't get knocked down though he skidded into cover and stayed there, pinned for the rest of the turn.

Steady Baz had methodically worked his way to the top of the centre section walkway, not bothered by all the bullets and bolts whizzing by his head. He took a shot at the scout with the fanciest looking armour, pinning Sgt Apollyon. Steady Baz passed his ammo check, that Stormboy training serving him well with a well oiled and maintainted slugga.

Despite this most of my Orks were doing nothing due to being pinned or hurt. Wobblz went out of action with a large burst of flatulence before lying still. His memory lingering as a green cloud that followed the breeze coming from the nearby ventilation ducts. Squelch's desperate need overcame his common sense and he recovered to a flesh wound as he looked around for that secluded spot where he could do his business in peace.

Scout Turn 5:

The game was turning in the Scout's favour but Lee still had a few Orks that could cause me problems. Apollyon passed his initiative test to recover from Pinning early but rushed his shot at Happy Zug and missed. I was actually lucky that Apollyon had been pinned or the Frenzy would have made him charge, a lucky escape for myself and the Yoof.

Zug's luck ran out though as Orosian put him down though with another impressive display of shooting. He had an ammo check but unlike Nakius passed it no problem. Nakius was probably hoping for the Orks to get close enough so he could use his bolter as a club, Reloads were high on my shopping list after this game.

Speaking of Ammo Checks Aeryius took Hatz Out of Action with yet another 6 to hit, passing a third Ammo Roll in a row (on an 11 no less). Sniper elite indeed!

Not to be outdone Caeon downed Klank, Nikaeon went back on Overwatch with his Heavy Bolter in an end to a decisive turn for the Scouts. Very few Orks were left standing now.

Ork Turn 6:

"Wots wrong with ya?! You Orks or is ya grots? Get stuck in!" To the boys credit, or sheer lack of common sense, they didn't bottle again.

Unfortunately there were not many Orks who could actually affect what was happening. Steady Baz maintained his cool and shot at Orosian but missed. That was it, everyone else was pinned or down and none of them snapped out of it in the recovery phase.

Scout turn 6:

Sadly the only target for the Scouts on top of the Bunker was the prone form of Happy Zug, still the Codex Astartes says never give a sucker an even break (or something like that) and Apollyon and Orosian dutifully riddled the greenskins body with boltershells. Annoyingly though they couldn't do anymore than score another Down result.

Therefore it was up to Aeryius to show them how it was done yet again, Steady Baz was his target this time with yet another hit roll of 6. A toxic round took Baz out of the game and this time round I finally failed an ammo check, on a double 1 no less! Had it been one of those shoddy Ork weapons it would have exploded, Imperial equipment is far from shoddy though and Aeryius just used his reload.

This just left Nikaeon and Caeon, both of whom went on Overwatch.

Orks turn 7:

The lads, all absorbed in their own suffering did not notice that they really should make a run for it and stayed on for yet another turn.

Squelch had caught sight of the bunker and moved towards it, there had to be a lav in there somewhere! He took a shot at the occupants but missed. He was a bit exposed.

Over on the left Boss Snikbang! had recovered and made a run towards the scouts but was cut down by Nikaeon's heavy bolter. Back at camp the number of scouts who had fired at Snikbang grew by lots in the re-telling (the highest number any Ork knows how to count to).

All that writhing was hard work and both Klank and Stretch decided they had better things to be doing and went Out of Action.

Scout turn 7:

Much as I hate to say it Squelch was the only available target. For my entire Team. It was literally a shooting gallery. Still, Hate the Alien, Kill the Alien and all that. My Scout's Drill Instructors had clearly drummed the Codex into them well as my Kill Team opened up on Squelch.

First Nikaeon downed him with a burst of heavy bolter fire. Apollyon did the same with his bolt pistol. Caeon did the same, as did Orosian, Aeryius inconceivably once again hit on a 6 passing his ammo check. Even with Toxic Rounds he couldn't take Squlech (or what was left of him) out of action. Poor Squelch.

Lee gamely passed another Bottle check but had no Orks standing. At the end of the Turn Boss Snikbang! went out of action and Lee conceded, with only two downed Yoofs left on the battlefield.

Post game action.

Kill team Apollyon had suffered zero injuries, Lee, not so lucky.

Both Lee's Orks left on the battledfield went OOA. Worse was to come as Squelch and Whap were captured (better than dead I suppose)

See, what happened with Squelch was that he'd managed to crawl into the sewer and float away from the battle. Later he was seen floating amongst the effluent but after calling him a few times Squelch had refused to stop floating face down so the boys left him to it. He eventually got caught in a grate that prevents large bodies being sucked into the waste purification facility and was picked up by a patrol.

Steady Baz suffered a head wound. Frenzy for him.
Happy Zug would miss the next game and now hated Orosian
Strech Scored against the Odds! He gained Infiltrate which was very handy (Lee was using the Blood Axe Skill table.)

Sadly none of Lee's other Orks were eligible for advancement. (Yoofs only get mission completed marks.)

The Scouts scored two promethium and I just had to choose Aeryius to advance. Four hits on a six multiple notches on his rifle? There could be no other. He picked up the Hipshooter skill, a Sniper Rifle isn't a heavy weapon so he could now run and gun! Albeit at a minus 1 to hit.

In the Re-arm phase Lee replaced one of his Orks, I chose to buy reloads and Photovisors. The reloads were a necessity the way I was rolling and the Photovisors would reduce the enemies cover by 1.

Our next game was already decided! A Rescue mission!

We'll be back soon, will Lee manage to rescue Squelch and Whap? Does he really want to? (They were a bit crap) Find out in the next game report, coming soon!