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!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Confessions of a depressed hobbyist.

I'm kinda hoping that this will provide a cathartic experience for me, i'm hoping even more that people will recognise many of the things I'm going to talk about. Maybe it will even prove helpful to some though i'm certainly not egotistical enough to be writing it for this purpose.

No, the main reason for writing this other than the sense of catharsis is to explain the dearth of content on the Conclave for I cannot deny that my output has dropped drastically of late. Depression kicks your hobby in the balls in many ways. I can only apologise. For sometime now the vast majority of content on the Conclave has been produced by myself and I just have not been able to do it recently.

So what i'll do is discuss what I like to think of as the three core pillars of the hobby and how my condition has affected them.  This probably wont be a long article. I suspect I'll run out of motivation quite quickly.

So before I decide I'm wasting your time onward to Pillar 1:


More specifically, reading. This is quite possibly one of the most significant ways in which my hobby has been hobbled. Put bluntly, I am finding it VERY hard to read for any significant amount of time at the moment. And I'm not just talking about novels. Although I am stuck halfway through Leman Russ, at an utter impasse, unable to absorb anymore of what I am reading and therefore left in a literary limbo (hope you are enjoying the alliteration)

And indeed the last book I DID manage to read I have held off of reviewing. For the record  it is Cybernetica, a Horus Heresy Novella, and the reason I have held off reviewing it is that quite frankly I cannot be sure i am delivering an impartial review. I simply did not enjoy it and I cannot be sure that this is not as a result of my current mental state. I certainly didn't think it was badly written but i'm not prepared to write up on it without knowing for sure my feelings about it.

And therefore I will not be reviewing any books at the moment for this very reason. It sucks! I was always a voracious reader and devoured books like a Hive Fleet devours planets, loving to lose myself in them and then review  what I had read, which, if you will allow me a brief moment, I felt  I was actually pretty good at. In the meantime my to read list grows. I had rather been making some progress on it too.

Because of course, we do tend to gravitate towards these fantasy worlds, and by we I mean people of a certain outlook (not depressed). After all, lets face it, the real world is such a horrible place who could blame us for wanting to hide away in distant and exotic realms? Not that the 41st Millennium could be seen as any kind of utopia that you would want to live in! But in general the literature I partake in is meant to provide an escape.

Except that I cannot do it. Not at the moment. Even something like Fall of Cadia, which is broken up into MANY bite size pieces is proving a challenge at the moment. White Dwarf is about my limit and even there I am struggling. Nothing grabs me, its all passe and bland. At least I know it will not last. It never does thankfully. It comes and goes, peaks and troughs, bad days and good. It's just more bad days than good at the moment. I'm sure some of you will be able to relate.

And obviously this also affects my creative writing as well, Ferdinand Cardinal, any Hobby articles, all on hiatus till me brain  sorts itself out. It's all in my head however, I have umpteen ideas every day and they all just sit in my head, gestating and embryonic. Some of them might materialise, most likely not. Let's just say that there are a great deal of articles in draft at various degrees of completion. I've managed to do a review of the Shadow War box and that's about it.


The second most important part of the hobby to me, including assembly and painting.

Assembly doesn't come too hard even at the moment to be honest. I am quite capable of constructing a model no matter how low I feel. Conversions are a little more tricky and usually minor but following the instructions and just putting the model together is not too taxing and actually fairly therapeutic as it feels like I am achieving something.

However, painting? Well that's a completely different matter sadly. Especially when it comes to armies.

Now, I have NEVER been the most prolific painter. Even at the best of times I'll find painting an army a total slog as I try to strike a balance between quality and productivity. Not that i'm a particularly good painter either, but I do have a certain amount of pride in what I DO produce and refuse to lower my own standards just to get something on the table.

So it is that I find armies a little bit of an uphill struggle, I don't do myself any favours  by making them more complicated than they need to be.

But at the moment? Downright impossible. Take my Ultramarines, Ok they are now going to be both a Heresy AND 40K army but I just cant get on with them at the moment, I haven't even worked out how i'm going to paint them (though I can tell you it will involve an airbrush.) In the meantime Lee steams ahead with his Word Bearers. Its getting embarrassing. There is a good chance that the Heresy Book series will be done and dusted by the time I am ready to take to the field (then again-  maybe not)

Nonetheless I have always advocated painting as an excellent form or relaxation and very therapeutic so I HAVE been picking up the paintbrush as much as i can bring myself to. My chosen subject? Star Wars imperial Assault. (and more recently Shadow Wars Armageddon Kill Team - this is another of those articles that has been in limbo for a bit)

Not only have I got to do very little thinking about painting them, (after all lets be honest the scheme is somewhat predetermined) I have a very good idea of what standard is achievable. The new sculpts are much improved but there is a limited amount you can do with the original core miniatures. Still, I have done the best I can with them and am for the most part, quite satisfied.

But it doesn't take much to change that. I was painting some Rebel Troopers and the sleeves just weren't going right, I hadn't primed them properly and the paint finish and coverage just wasn't up to scratch. So I got dejected, rather than mess them up anymore they were shoved to the side and something else was picked up instead. and this is why I have lots of half painted Imperial Assault miniatures. Still, some people play without even painting them and I am enjoying getting them done.

And speaking of gaming here is the final pillar or core of the hobby.


Now I have to confess, I have never been the most active gamer even at the best of times. Certainly those games that I do play I tend to play with a very select group and do not stray from outside that group. Call it a comfort zone if you will, I know what i'll be getting and I know that no matter win lose or draw i'll enjoy the game. Which is the most important thing, well as far as i'm  concerned anyway

It's also a group with a decent appreciation for the narrative over the said game's meta. Well for the most part at least. Recently we have been playing Hammerhal which has been a lot of fun and now we have turned our attention to Shadow Wars Armageddon. I have for the most part shied away from bigger games. This has sometimes meant that I have let people down, hell it was only due to literally being dragged out one evening that I started playing outside of mine or Lees home again at all.

Other than that I have gravitated towards boardgames recently. Throwing a fair chunk of my income at FFG and the like. Unlike a wargame Boardgames require a lot less effort, being much more self contained and less taxing. No painting, well, it's optional.

Thankfully, (well I think so anyway) self contained game releases have never been so frequent. Even discounting Kickstarters and the like there is plenty out there to keep me busy.

So that's about it. as I said, I'm really not sure about this one. I hope it doesn't come across as too self indulgent and pretentious and i'm still having second thoughts about publishing this. In the event that I do please feel free to comment below with any thoughts you may have.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Conclave Game Review: Shadow War: Armageddon

I wasn’t sure whether to even pen this review you know. Seeing as I was lucky/resourceful enough to secure a copy of the limited box set from a more obscure independent stockist a good couple of hours after release (Lvl Up Gaming as it happens – Great people, highly recommended) having figured that GW and the big resellers like Wayland and Dark Sphere would sell out very quickly. 

However, is there much point in reviewing something that can no longer be bought? I wasn’t sure but have decided to proceed anyway, focusing only briefly on the box set, and setting the majority of the review around the game, and book itself, which is being released separately by GW (in a more complete version to boot). I’ll also spend a bit of time talking about the new scenery as that too is being released separately. So, read on to find out about the game that caught GW completely by surprise and will likely be talked about for years to come.

As stated it will be pretty much a whirlwind tour of the box set so i’ll start with the box itself. Very deep, lovely new box smell and the box itself is of supreme quality. Very sturdy. It’s a real shame and error by GW in my opinion to make it limited edition and not produce more. 

A very big box. Double as deep as normal....

Within you have an absolute mountain of sprues. Eight separate scenery sprues and then your models. We’ll discuss those in a bit. In addition you have some dice (including some disappointingly small Artillery and scatter dice) and current plastic templates but reproduced in red. Looks pretty cool too. 

Lots of plastic

There is also a sheet of tokens for running, hiding, overwatch and the like and a few objective tokens, these are nice and glossy and high quality. 

The Artillery and Misfire dice could be bigger. 

Finally in what appears to be common practice for GW at the moment there is a piece of card artwork separating the book from the sprues presumably to protect them, it makes a nice little poster and has pictures of some of the scenery kits yet to come on the back.

Will make a nice poster. 

That’s the box, if you got one you know what I’m talking about if not then feel free to feel grumpy at GW for making it limited edition and enabling all those scalpers as it’s actually rather nice. Onwards.

Heretics most foul. 

It’s been common of late for the game to be quite secondary to the models in priority when it comes to GWs big game releases. Hand’s up if you have actually PLAYED Calth, Prospero or Overkill (My hand is not up). Largely these have been bought by people for the discount on the models (which were exclusive at the time) not the games within. This is quite the opposite, For one thing the models (not counting the scenery) are easily the weak point in the set. Space Marine Scouts and Ork Boyz. Two very old and very underwhelming kits. GW obviously needed to get rid of some. 

A new Scout sprue would have been a real selling point. Even if they just changed the head and recut the sprue. 

Just one look at the sprues will betray the inferiority of the kits to today’s releases. Let’s forgo the fact that the Scout kits (the heads in particular), are one of the more reviled kits that GW produce, the sprues are sparse to the extreme, clearly designed back in the early days of plastic production, it’s a far cry from today’s jam packed frames and highlights that although today’s kits might be a lot more expensive they are also far superior in terms of content. It’s a kit in dire need of an update. The Ork frame fares a little better but is still showing its age. As does that range in general.

Very robust and impressive 

Thankfully the scenery is a lot better, and also where the savings are made, I struggled somewhat with exactly how many scenery kits are included in the box, White Dwarf said two, but then also got the amount of dice (and the price) wrong so I wasn’t relying on that. I actually thought it was three separate kits but it turns out its actually two and a half. You see, most of the scenery kits that are being released in the coming months are actually an amalgamation of sprues from different kits.

Coming soon....

 Here you get two full kits and a couple of sprues of walkways and stanchions that are then incorporated into another kit to be released (Galvanic Magmavent i think) in total its eight chunky sprues of scenery, it makes the total value a little hard to calculate but overall i’d say the RRP of £80 covers the scenery and you get everything else for free. Not too bad but not on par with the savings of recent boxed sets. It also means that none of the sprues in this box are exclusive, you can get them all elsewhere.

And the scenery is really rather nice, just the first part of a multi month Sector Mechanicus scenery range (you can spot unreleased bits in WD if you look closely) 

It’s very robust and for the most part fairly modular, with a number of pegs and holes allowing for multiple configurations using a number of interlocking clips. You can attach pipes and chains and even the ladders slot into pegs. The barriers on the walkways are also removable and adjustable. 

The pipes and chimneys sadly are much less so and inexplicably will require gluing into place or will likely just fall over. Just how well painted pieces will stand up to repeated assembly and disassembly is up for debate but on the whole its impressive stuff. 

It’s not quite as detailed as a standard GW kit, coming from the Chinese Factory like all their other scenery but it is a step up from earlier efforts. I look forward to getting it all put together. 

Great scenery but as you can see you will need to supplement it with other scenery from your collection .

Despite the saving you make on the box I do have to say that the amount of scenery you get is not enough for a game. You would need two sets or at least supplementary kits from GWs vast range of buildings to cover even a small table. I plan to grab some Haematrope reactors and munitorum containers which will go nicely with what scenery I already have.

Leaving us with the book and the game itself. Now, GW have just announced plans to release the book separately with all the recent PDF content that GW have published included along with rules for Sisters of Battle and Inquisitor Warbands. This is certainly a little vexing to us early adopters as we have effectively ended up with an inferior product but I’ll talk more about that in a second. 

Really nice counters but the book is rather bare bones. Well this version is. 

The rule book as stands is 120 pages and essentially Necromunda. After a brief bit of fluff about Armageddon and Hive Acheron in particular it’s onto the rules. Now, it’s been a while since I played Necro. (too long I would say) but I’m fairly sure that the majority of the core rules are the same. Overwatch seems to have changed slightly, with there now being an initiative check to shoot a model that is going from and to cover, but other than that and the lack of sustained fire dice and jamming weapons it all seems fairly standard. The rule about not running within 8 inches of another model seems to be gone as well.

Certainly it bought a warm feeling to this veteran’s heart to see a movement value and modifiers for long range, ammo rolls, bottle tests. Aaah the days! Those who never played Necromunda are in for a treat. 

The rules are well presented and easy to understand and the game looks like it will be a lot of fun to play. There are six missions included within which to be honest isn’t many but probably enough, there is at least a table of game conditions that will add subplot and mix things up a little. So, so far so good right? A triumph right? Well, no, not quite. Let’s talk about the not so good stuff.

We played a game, feels a bit like Necro but it just isn't. It's basically Second Edition Kill Team. 

Firstly the rosters in the game are bare bones to say the least, Orks, Scouts and Imperial Guard and that’s yer lot. Really at the very least you would think a choice from each major faction would be the minimum. GW have now announced that they will be releasing a separate rulebook in response to the (quite justified) outrage over the low stock levels and seeming unavailability of the ruleset. 

The problem is that the rulebook will contain all the PDFs that they have produced and published and therefore have at least five or six times the amount of rosters that the box rulebook has, yes they will be available as PDFs online for free but I really do feel that is besides the point and get the impression that GW may be angling for a sneaky double dip on the rulebook. In addition Inquisitor Warbands will be in the new book and that is where I think the game will really have a chance to shine.

The major bugbear I have with Shadow War has nothing to do with rosters though, it has to do with the post game sequence. This has been brutally and unforgivably butchered, bearing very little resemblance to the sprawling possibilities presented by the underhive in Necromunda. 

For a start, levelling has completely changed. Rather than earning any kind of experience you simply nominate a model from your kill team to advance, New recruits (the equivalent of Juvies) automatically turn into troopers after three games. The only other way to advance is through injury by surviving against the odds after going out of action.

This really kills the buzz you got from scoring kills, in necromunda every kill meant more experience. In this it means nothing. Nothing at all. It's a real shame. Basically you are just forcing your opponent to roll on the injury table,

Speaking of the Injury table, that too has been pared down, no D66 rolls anymore, its a straight D6. Gone are all the hand and eye, head injuries, that used to affect stats and give mental conditions and with it is gone a good opportunity to add character to your kill team. Gone too are the trading posts and territories, now you just re-arm and re-supply. Of course given the context of the war on Armageddon this makes a certain amount of sense but it also kills a great deal of the variety and fun that you had in the post game phase.

You can however hire special operatives much in the same way as bounty hunters in Necromunda, this is pretty much the only way you have of using Power Armoured Marines and even Terminators in the game. Sadly these hired guns only last one game and do not advance unlike in Necro which puts a dampener on things but they are there. You pay for them with Promethium reserves as credits are a no no but as the only way to win the campaign is to accrue 15 promethium it seems a little counter intuitive. There are also no rules for underdogs that I could see so an advanced band versus a new one could be a big issue, indeed with the sprawl of races in 40k I would be very interested to see how they handle game balance. I feel it may well be a problem going forward. It may borrow the rules but Necromunda this aint.

And THAT is the biggest problem with Shadow Wars Armageddon, it ISN’T necromunda. It acts a bit like it but it just isn’t. I can see GW’s thinking. People wanted Necromunda, well all the old crusty gamers like me who played it first time round did anyway. 

The real deal... 

Problem is how do you make money from it? Once you sell the box and the gang isn’t that your lot? Also the cost of producing all new plastic ganger sprues is most prohibitive, eight gangs, two sprues for each (one for gangers and juves and one for heavies special weapons and leaders) and you are looking at quite the outlay. No, better to release something that can be used with the models that people already own. Test the waters and time it with a new scenery range to boot. I still believe that Necromunda will come out, hopefully with all the character that is missing from this release. I’d expect to see it at the end of the year perhaps with two gangs that will be supplemented much in he same way as Blood Bowl.

What Shadow Wars reminds me of most of all is Silver Tower, a pretender to the throne with similar rules and its own merits but none of the depth. Of course Silver Tower lead to the far superior Hammerhal and with luck we will see something more fleshed out following this, something called Necromunda. This game in the meantime will hopefully get much more interesting when the Inqusitor Warband rules are released. 

But for now you will have to make do with this slightly inferior clone. Thanks to the setting it is a compromise with both the character and variety greatly stripped down. For that matter what are Necrons, Tyranids and Tau doing on Armageddon anyway? It’s a hodge podge, a makeshift construction to produce an updated version of Kill Team/Skirmish 40K with Second Edition rules. 

It’s perfectly serviceable as is but the name is ironic as it is a pale shadow of what it could have been. I’m sure it will be fun to string a few games together but let’s face it, if a Headwound isn’t going to drive my mates Van Saar ganger mad so he ends up wearing my captured Escher leaders armoured corset and parading round the Underhive like a tech savvy Dr Frank’n’furter it’s just not going to be the same is it?