Category Archives: Warhammer 40k

PETA vs. GW

Ohhhhhh myyyyyyy.

Two organizations I love to hate.  PETA for their overbearing moralism.  GW for… basically being GW.  Yes it’s self referential but at this point if you don’t know why “GW being GW” is bad… I don’t have 10,000 words to describe it.

ANYWAY.

There’s been some great responses.

Fur is murder. In a universe where star ships sail through a sea of liquid murder guided by a murder powered lighthouse

No.  Seriously.  The Warp is the realm of murder (and a lot of other things) and the Astronomican is powered by the souls, not just the body, and blood, but the very SOULS of psykers being consumed to power this lighthouse.

Then there’s the Daemonculaba.  1D4chan, a rather infamous hive of scum and villainy refers to this is Chaos’ “Aristocrats” joke…I’m not even going to describe it.  It’s beyond horrific.

Now let’s look at our fuzzy little cuddly bears in the 41st millennium.

Most of the ones you see are Fenrisian wolves.  Think of a horse.  No.  A draft horse.  Good.  Now bigger.  Bigger.  Bit bigger.  Ok, close enough.  Now add fangs, teeth, a skeleton that would make Wolverine blush, and add a dash of PURE RABID PSYCHOPATH.

So yes.  That fur is murder.  Angry, bitey, scratchy murder.

The Unloved Rhino

So why would anyone buy just a Rhino anymore.  Seriously.  $37 bucks.  Rhino.

Here’s your other choices.  Razorback, $42 bucks.  For 5 dollars more you can choose a pile of extra bits that give you a lot more flexibility in the build.  Basically for each Razorback you see yourself needing, you buy the kit and you can swap it for a rhino just by changing the top deck.

Then there’s the armored assault squad.  For $55 you get a Rhino, a tactical squad, and I do love the current tac squad kit, for me there’s a Dark Angel upgrade sprue.  Finally there’s one of the REALLY hard to find Dark Angels Squad Transfers.  I’d rather get one of the really big ones, but even these are really useful.  My current build needs at least 5 of them.  Either way, this is a steal at less than $20 more than the Rhino on its own.  Heck just the upgrade sprue is $14.  The squad is $40.  Another way of looking at it is, any Dark Angel player that wants a tac squad gets the transfers, the upgrade sprue, and a free Rhino.  Basically there’s a lot of value in these packs.  Where there isn’t a lot of value is in units on their own.  Any unit you are looking for, look for it in a package these days.

Swamps of M’Boto: Of Arms and Armor

The Angels commanders entered Colonel Akinye’s tent, the Colonel and his staff were already standing.  The staff braced to attention and the Colonel bowed low and made the sign of the aquila.

“Welcome Master Balthasar.  We are honored you have returned.”  He said, with a vague questioning tone.  “We were just planning the defense of the positions you captured.  Without your astartes we wouldn’t have had a chance to hold them, but we would have fought as long as we stood, then fought on on our knees, and then fallen forward to fight in the prone!”  He raised his fist in a triumphant pump, not noticing that his speech had done little to brace the spirit of his staff.

“Well Colonel, now we are back and I doubt that will be necessary.  Have your soldiers guard the woods to the north of the position my demi-company secured several days ago.  We will secure the hill and the trees beneath it.  And try not to give too many speeches to the men.  Few words, but heartfelt is best.”  Balthasar said.  He heard a distinct click as Maccabeus turned off his vox-speaker.

Balthasar inclined his head to the Colonel and turned to leave the tent.  As they walked out into the light of the twin moons, Maccabeus voice came up over the command channel.  “That idiot had as good as given in to defeat before the battle had started, and he was more than halfway to convincing his men that they were defeated before the fighting started.”

“Why do you think I told him to not give any more speeches Brother Chaplain.”

“I nearly choked when you did.  Have we a plan?”

“I expect the Xenos to come from the Northeast.  Mostly infantry, try to blast us off the hill.  Battlesuits and Hover-tanks will rush down the road between the trees and the hill.  My demi company will defend with the Razorback squads on the north side of the hill, the Devastators will guard the peak, I’ll be with the 5th and my command squad in the trees, and the assault squad will be behind the south end of the hill, ready to counter-attack in either direction, with our Ravenwing support close to hand.  These xenos are cautious  Their first attack will not be fully blooded.  The librarian and his terminators are aboard the ship if we need them.  You will take your demi-company north to back up the main line, but do not engage if you do not need to.  I want to be ready to counter attack, and we’ll want the full company for that.”

Balthasar shrugged his shoulders, rolling them around in his armor.  “Let us go to our camp.  The Colonel will hold the hill for the night and we will advance before dawn.  Have the weapons blessed and anointed with oils, debrief the brothers of the 7th, and let us prepare for battle.”

With that he strode off alone.  A pavilion had been prepared by the M’Boton Cheetas.  It was filled with all sorts of furs and luxuries.  Balthasar placed his weapons on the table, and carefully removed his armor.  The rack the M’boton troops had provided for it groaned under the weight but bore up.  Balthasar mused on this for a moment.  A portent he was sure, the men of M’boto might bend, might creak and shudder under the weight, but they would bear it.

His weapons he oiled, a fine Relic blade.  One of the last ever made on Caliban.  The low gothic runes spelled out “Arnot” on the blade.  The bluish-black steel shined under the oil.  To his hands it felt pitted, like a worn down mountain face.  He knew better than to test it.  Even without power the ancient weapon cut through astartes armor like paper, and even tanks suffered under the powered blade.  Reverently he placed it in the cradle on the rack.  He stripped down his bolter, chanting the ancient rhymes of maintenance, reverently oiling each piece and carefully replacing them feeling each action slide in perfectly. He wasn’t sure when his next chance to prepare would be, and he rejoiced in the simple, soldierly task in the simple white robe packed deep within his simple satchel of gear for campaigns.

his armor he carefully inspected and maintained.  Starting with the boots he scrubbed the mud and dust off, checking the hinges and joints, working up the greaves and knee pads, he checked the flex-joints for tearing.  He carefully inspected the symbols of chapter and company.  The banner bearing his own personal heraldry he unrolled and placed on its pole.  He finally hefted the breastplate of his armor and cleaned it  reverently.  Carefully polishing the edges he cleaned the plastron, and checked the lining on the inside, the tubes and hoses all connected, the connections cleaned.  Finally he cleaned the blade of the Dark Angels from handle to hilt, and then the wings of the Angels and the Aquila.  Carefully he placed it back on the rack, listening to the groan as the grey wood took the weight.  He took a moment to admire the carving on the armor stand.  No simple piece, hastily assembled; it bore the marks of a craftsman.  Not an ornament for a kings hall, but a gift to a leader of warriors on campaign. He called the Chaplain one last time to check in, and, finding all to his liking he set his vox bead to wake him at any signal and cast himself on the cot carefully so as not to break it and let his awareness slip away.

Fall of Cadia and 8th Edition

So currently there’s a lot of chatter about two things upcoming in the 40k universe.  The fall of Cadia and the upcoming 8th edition.  The fall of Cadia is coming hard on the heels of the Siege of Fenris and continues that story.  Magnus has patched things up with Ahriman, sort of, and the word of the sorcerers was teleported in toto to Prospero.  Abaddon the Armless is attacking Cadia and I have a feeling it might actually work this time, what with the campaign being called the Fall of Cadia and all.  Living saints are showing up with the Imperium getting its own “Party Float” model.  Seriously.  She’s this close to being a Protectorate Warcaster.  Guilliman is on his way back, just to piss off everyone who doesn’t like the Ultrasmurfs, even though he’s mortally wounded and “slowly healing” in stasis while the Lion is just napping.  For ten thousand years.  What can I say he naps like a pro.

So the grimdark story is moving forward.  GW hasn’t called it the “end times” because, well, that would trigger everyone who liked Warhammer Fantasy before GW RUINED IT FOREVER reimagined it in a new format.  This is especially key with a new edition looming on the horizon.  First let’s do some accounting.  20 Primarchs.  2 lost and expunged.  The Lion is napping (LIKE A BOSS), Fulgrim and Perturabo are demon princes, Khan and Russ are taking extended tours of Chaos-affiliated architecture, Dorn and Ferrus Manus are dead (ish. more on this in a bit) Konrad Curze and Sangy are dead, dead, dead.  Angron is a demon prince, Guilliman is apparently already on his way back (unenthusiastic yay) Mortarion and Magnus are Demon Princes as well, Horus is as completely destroyed as you can be, Lorgar is an especially whiny demon prince, Vulkan is a Perpetual, supposedly he’s dead but the guy has plot armor like whoah, Corvus Corax is MIA but with a HUGE asterisk, and I am Alpharius.  Or Omegon.

So the Imperium can expect to see the Lion, and Guilliman for sure, and Russ, Vulkan, Khan, and Corax wouldn’t be a stretch.  Dorn and Manus would be a stretch but Dorn is in that “Have you seen a body?”  “Well, we have a hand, sir” category.  If they want him back he’s back.  Manus would be more of a stretch but also is a huge opportunity.  First off he’s a very popular Primarch for not being one of the “major” legions/chapters.  He’s boosted by having THE best model among the Forgeworld Primarchs (Seriously, check it out) and the stories of what has happened to his head lead to the potential of a Robot Nixon style return.  What would make this delicious is the fact that he actually abhors the replacement of flesh with steel, which seems the kind of suffering GW loves to inflict on its tragic heroes.

Corvus Corax is much more likely to come back, and he’s an interesting one.  Last seen headed for the Eye of Terror he hasn’t been confirmed dead, and while his last action seems suicidal, he’s very much not.  He’s an extremely dedicated servant of the Emperor, in fact he’s a bit of an ideologue, much like Lorgar in his blind faith.  He also has an amazing wealth of knowledge of gene-seed and space marine creation, thanks to his efforts rebuilding his chapter.  He could be a huge piece of rebuilding the Imperium after the coming apocalypse.

Chaos can bring Fulgrim, Lorgar, Mortarion, Angron, Magnus, Perturabo, and possibly half of Alpharius Omegon.  Most of them don’t need much introduction, they are Demon Princes and if GW wants them in, they will be in.  Alpharius Omegon was supposedly killed, half by Dorn, half by Guilliman.  I don’t believe it for a second.  I do believe that they have the potential to be the second largest spoiler in the whole shebang.  Who is the biggest?  Magnus the Red.

No.  Really.  I’ll explain.  Here’s what I see happening, Cadia falls, the Black Crusade spills out headed all across the galaxy. As Abby’s ships approach Terra the Golden Throne fails and the Emperor dies, coincidentally banishing Abby’s ships to the Eye for a time, and possibly even creating a mini eye of terror (the Eye of Terra if you will.)  The Demon Primarchs have fanned out, many taking over their own kingdoms and the regular Space Marines are on their back foot.  Guilliman is building another Empire.  He’s done it before.  Vulkan shows up to help with War machines, Corvus Corax shows up to help create more marines, Russ shows up to help kill everything, and shortly before Terra get whomped, The Rock shows up to try to defend Terra.  And intercept a certain Fallen.  Cypher shows up not on Terra’s walls, but at the Rock.  Walking in as if he owns the place he hands his pistols over and carrying the Lion’s Blade he waits while every Inquisitor Chaplain descends on him, only to be stopped by the Watchers in the Dark.  The Watchers lead everyone to the depths of the Rock, past even Luther’s chamber, to where the Lion lays sleeping.  Cypher lays the Lion’s sword on his Primarch’s chest and asks “Father, why did you abandon us.”

To which the Lion awakes and responds “I left you to defend our homeworld, to safeguard the future of our legion.  Why did you fail in your charge.”  A few seconds later the scene is re-enacted a few rooms over in Luther’s chamber, with much of the last 10,000 years of Dark Angels history being revealed as, literally, the Lion gave a shitty mission brief, leading Luther and the Fallen to believe they had been abandoned, when they had, in fact, been trusted with the most important mission they could be given.  Coincidentally this leaves the Dark Angels and the other Unforgiven as a highly unified force, which the Lion absolutely would not hesitate to wield in the tradition of the Space Marine Legions of the Crusade era.

This is a band aid on a sucking chest wound though.  The Imperium has basically fallen.  The Emperor is dead, Primarchs are empire building in the rubble.  Chaos is expanding and all of reality hangs by a thread.  The loyalist Primarchs, Guilliman, The Lion, Russ, CC, and Vulkan, all gather on Ultramar.  Discussions go round and round on how to proceed. The Lion is the new Warmaster.  Guilliman is the Emperor-regent, CC and Vulkan are helping rebuild the armies, and Russ spearheads the charge.  However while they can try to patch the sinking ship they find themselves stuck at a dead end.

At this point they are joined by three more Primarchs.  Dorn, Khan, and Magnus.  No, I’m not kidding.  In my vision of 40k, Dorn was rescued/captured by Magnus, who has no great love for Tzeentch or Chaos, and might very well be open to returning to the Imperium on his own terms.  Dorn has intimate knowledge of the Golden Throne, from his time as guardian of the Imperial Palace, and Khan is intimately familiar with the Webway, which was a large part of the development of the throne.  Magnus is willing to fulfill the Emperor’s role for him, as, basically, the ass in the throne, provided the other Primarchs work to restore his legion.

Most of the Primarchs are more than willing to participate, but one of them, Russ, is absolutely incoherent with rage at the thought.  He has just returned to find Fenris shattered, by Magnus, and even were that not the case he would not countenance letting the traitor return to the fold.  However, Russ has few friends at the table, and his Chapter has been shattered leaving him with even less power than that.  Magnus pours oil on the waters by asking that Russ be his guardian, and, if he shows any moment of disloyalty, his executioner.  The Wolves and the Sons were always the smallest of legions, and while their hate for each other is legendary, they have both always been utterly loyal to their leaders.

This gives the Imperium a rudder.  With a new leader, Big Papa Smurf, a new Warmaster, the Lion, a cabal of technicians, and a new guiding light in Magnus, as well as flipping two of the most devious cards in the Chaos deck (Cypher and Magnus) the Imperium has the initiative.  Just in time for the return of the Emperor.

Of course Chaos won’t take this lying down.  Alpharius Omegon may or may not be loyal to Chaos, or the new Empire, or anything else at this point, but the rest of the Primarchs are in it to win it, and their power is terrible to behold.  While I don’t doubt that any of the Primarchs could have taken down Primarch Lorgar back in the Heresy era (a wounded and exhausted Corvus Corax nearly did it during the drop site massacre) I doubt any of them would be quite so succesful about taking on Demon Prince Lorgar, and Lorgar lagged far behind his brothers in martial skill.  I shudder to think of the power that Perturabo has picked up, even as a “undeclared” champion of chaos.  Now imagine the power of a Mortarion, Angron, or Fulgrim, all martial masters with the backing of their own Chaos God.  Yeah I’ll pass on that, thanks.  Added to that, the Marines will be stretched very thin, and the resources of the Imperial Guard will be taxed to the limit without the web of trade, resources, and administratum support the Imperium had.  Guilliman will likely be occupied full time just re-connecting the Ultramar sector.

So here’s how I see it.  Chaos will establish lodgements all over the fallen Imperium, with bickering warlords squatting in the ruins of humanity’s greatest empire.  At this point the loyalist Primarchs reunite and play all their cards to build the Ultramar Empire, with the ability to strike hard, but not widely, and not often.  Chaos has won incredible gains, but now faces a foe far more focused, and more driven, at a time when its own power is badly divided.

But enough lore.

8th Edition.

My first thought is “Please don’t fuck this up”

My next thought is “You know, they keep talking streamlining.  Do they mean streamlining or do they mean abstracting?”

Currently there’s a couple hundred “USRs” between the BRB, the codexes, the campaign books… yeah there’s a lot of special rules.  That list needs to be pared down.  Preferably to a couple dozen.  This alone would accomplish a lot.

There needs to be some balance changes as well.  Right now vehicles are usually not taken unless they are free, or deployed en masse by specific armies.  Vehicles should be key factors.  You need a balance between them dominating the field, and being too dominant, but it shouldn’t be a “how can I get free transports for my troops” games with formations.  On that topic, WTB Rhinos/Razorbacks.

Now let me talk about something I would LOVE to see.  Something that would make the game a lot faster, and help balance melee vs. ranged combat.  I’m stealing this idea from Epic 40k, which is still GWs best ruleset.  Firepower.  That’s right, Firepower.  Instead of rolling to hit, to wound, and then dealing with a myriad of saves, it will not die, and regenerating, we abstract all of that.  Every weapon gets a firepower rating.  Better yet every model gets a firepower rating.  An ork gets a 1.  A guardsman a 2.  A tactical marine a 3.  Add together a whole unit’s firepower and look at a chart to see how many dice you roll, modified by the targets cover and concealment.  Then you roll against the target’s defensive value.  Terminators would have a defensive value of 6, marines might have a defensive value of 5, an ork, aspect warrior or tau a 4, a guardsman or guardian a 3, and a gretchin or swarm creature a 2.  For example a marine tactical squad with 10 bolters has a firepower of 30.  The chart gives them a rating of 15/11/8 against targets in the open/soft cover/hard cover.  So against a guardsman squad in the open they roll 20 dice, with a fair chance of blasting them off the table.  Against a squad in hard cover they inflict a handful of casualties, and all this is done in seconds.  Special weapons might add a special rule to the attack, for example a fixed number of dice regardless of cover (flamers) or additional dice against certain targets (lascannon against heavily armored targets for example)

I doubt GW will do this, but I’d absolutely love to see it.  It much better captures firefights as troops blasting away at targets of opportunity rather than single, aimed shots.

Melee needs love too.  Badly.  Delivering enough troops to melee and having enough left to do anything is very hard in 7th edition.  Go ahead, charge a Dark Angel or Tau force and see how many dice your opponent brought with him.  In addition it’s just not that deadly.  Getting rid of toughness/armor and just giving a defense score helps, and if my firepower suggestion is taken, it’s relatively easy to tune the firepower/dice chart to set whatever balance you want.  Need more melee?  Firepower generates fewer dice.  Think melee in the year 41,000 is silly?  DICE FOR THE DICE GODS!

Ok this post is up over 2200 words.

In the Bloody, Grimdark, Future, There is Only Testosterone

To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.

-Rogue Trader and damn near every main rulebook ever.

So writing any fiction in the Warhammer 40k universe has some issues for me.  It’s a stretch.  I like writing about diverse characters, men and women, strong and weak, outgoing and introspective, noble and degenerate.  You really don’t get that a lot in the grimdark.  The heroes are intolerant, “noble” in the harshest of senses, the villains are far more interesting running the gamut from the truly and bestially depraved to, well, heretics like you and me.  No, I’m not kidding.  We’re heretics to them.  PURGE YOURSELF!

The tech of the grimdark is very interesting, especially when you deal with the arcane mysticism that has swum up around it.  It’s amazing, highly powered, high tech stuff, and no one has really any idea how it works, it’s all the machine spirit.  There’s some interesting writing to be done there.

Even the battles are problematic.  Marines are organized into chapters of 1000 marines.  The Battle company I listed has a little over 120 marines.  Let’s say I throw them into a huge battle and get tabled.  That’s 1/8th of the Dark Angels!  It’s really over 1/4 of their active strength as 4 companies are reserves, 1 is a scout company, and the Deathwing/Ravenwing are mixed with the Battle Companies to such an extent that they really just build out the 3 Battle Companies and stretch them a bit to 4 or 5 deployable forces.  So how do I write these battles up?  I mean I can have a lot of lightly wounded and good treatment, and Marines are quite hardy, but it’s going to take some creativity to keep them from dying in job lots to the kinds of weapons you run into routinely in the 41st millenium, and it takes 8-10 years to get a replacement ready and up to speed.  Years.  Even the British Regulars didn’t take that long and I can lose 25% of their deployable force in a long, awful Sunday.

I am looking forward to meeting these challenges.  It’s an interesting universe to write in and having such one-dimensional characters to begin with make writing them in a more nuanced fashion a challenge.  Too much nuance and I’m far out of canon.  Too little and it’s just testosterone filled blood and guts.  Should be interesting to walk the line.

Swamps of M’boto

Master Balthasar swung his boots out of the sucking mud, fighting for alertness as his demi-company trudged through the end of the mire towards their objective.  They still had several kilometers to go and the offensive was scheduled to go off in less than 8 hours.  They had left their vehicles behind, knowing they would sink in the swamp, and even the speeders the Ravenwing had attached to his command had to pick their routes carefully lest their grav-effect drill down into the mud.

“Master Balthasar, angle to the left to where the speeders are.  We have found a spit of solid ground” called Sergeant Matthias.  Balthasar twisted to see the coil of speeders begin to shake out into a line over the solid ground, and he trudged across the morass to find firmer footing.  A movement they had planned for 6 hours had taken over 10 and the troops focus was lacking as the constant battle simply to stay erect was fought with each step.  The Emperor was with them, finally and the ground even came up above the water line, nearly dry, and the troops made much better time, reaching the planned assembly area with 90 minutes to go until the attack.

“Sergeant Eleazer, form a defensive and then rest, we must clear our minds of that foul swamp.  We will hold here for 30 minutes.  Matthias ground your speeders inside.  We can trust our Catalepsian nodes but I will not have a sloppy attack even if we are covered in filth.  Sergeant Judah, take your men ahead and find the grove the auspex detected for us to attack from.  Once you have reached it vox back your bearing and rest your squad”

Master Balthasar’s vox clicked as each Sergeant acknowledged his orders.  The tactical squads broke down their sectors, the devastators picked firing positions on little knolls and the speeders grounded in dead zones out of easy observation, then each brother froze into a statue.  Balthasar and his command squad alone remained moving.  Trusting to their altered physique and discipline alone, the silent brothers surveyed the landscape and waited for the assault squad’s report.  Within ten minutes Judah’s voice came up on the vox.

“Master Balthasar, we have come to the edge of the copse.  We are holding just inside the tree line, the xenos are just on the far side and are observing the woods.  Request instructions”

“Dark Angels stand to!  Judah hold and observe, dual columns of march, 1st squad, command group, 3rd squad, 9th squad, 5th squad.  Speeders sweep east and watch for xenos reinforcements.  Brother Symon let the Chaplain know we are starting early, if they are close to the copse we will have to attack as soon as we approach so he will begin his attack in 10 minutes.  We should arrive and be ready within minutes of that, hitting the xenos in the flank as they react to his demonstration.”  Balthasar hefted his relic blade, combi gun slung at his side.  “Let our enemies repent, for tomorrow they die!”

The squads divided by combat squad, 1st squad spreading out in two columns, the command group in a blob behind them, another tactical squad split behind the first squad’s columns, the devastators heavy weapons behind them, and finally the Iron Armor of the 5th squad noisily bringing up the rear.  The cache of ancient armor had been a boon and a symbol to the men, but the heavy, clanking suits required special handling tactically.  They could give away the entire assault, but they were uniquely suited to leading the assault as well, and Balthasar’s brain whirred away at the interesting problem of passing them forward without giving away the vital element of surprise.

Just as the trees came into view the sound of heavy weapons echoed over the advancing marines.  Chaplain Maccabeus has kicked off the attack nearly perfectly and Balthasar’s deep voice boomed out over the vox and speakers “5th squad, direct advance through the copse, 7th swing to the right and assault into the enemy rear once they leave their positions, 1st and 3rd oblique left into battle line, 9th get your weapons up onto the hill to the left of the woods, Matthias wait until the enemy leave their fortifications then attack them in the open with your speeders.  In the Emperor’s name, advance!”

FOR THE EMPEROR, again

Pretty sure I’ve used that title before.  Getting back into 40k.  Currently it seems like the Dark Angels I’ve been fiddling with for a while will be fun.  Getting used to detachments will take time, and currently I have a big enough grey horde to make Leman Russ jealous, but I think I can manage that.

Also working on D’s Eldar.  We have her up to around 1k points.  Almost exactly 1k actually and with a pretty clear path to 2k.  It’s interesting and educational to see how things look from the standpoint of another codex.  It’s also eye opening to realize just how glaring many weaknesses are.  Try finding anti-air in a Dark Angels list.  Eldar may not be great but they at least have a little.  DA?  Woof.  Monstrous creatures?  Does a Land Raider count?  Not saying DA is weak, it has a lot of 2+, great bikes.  Really great bikes.  REALLY REALLY great bikes.  And T5 is pretty good in the current meta.

So I’m going to try to necro this blog with a bit more hobby flair.  Alternating between a meta/battle report post, a hobby post, and some fluff fiction fun from my battle company.  And I need VERY little in the way of additional troops to get the whole battle company on the field.  Mostly assault marines.  I think I’m 15 assault marines and 4 heavy weapons from having a full battle company; but which one do I make.

not-doing-it

Not doin it!

So, 3rd or 5th?  I can do 5th very easily just doing the slash across the shoulder plate and knee pads, but with my planned lists almost always having (very, very good) bikes, and terminators… It’ll be nice to have all the colors mixed in on my tac squads.  So…. probably doing 5th.  Still leaving 3rd open as an option though.

One of the things I like about the detachments is it lets you take org charts like that one above, and put it into an actual army list.  I can build a Lion’s Blade Demi Company that splits a Battle Company right down the middle.  Double up on that, add a Ravenwing support team to one half, a Deathwing support detachment to the other and you have a REALLY fun, neat army that has a full battle company at its core.  So right now I’m looking at that.  Here’s the list I’m looking at now.  Priorities are:  Transport for the 3rd tac squad, possible weapons changes for the termies.

listish

If I ran it…

So GW posted one doozy of a letter to investors.  I mean.  Wow.  Look at THIS whopper.  If he wasn’t leaving he should be thrown out anyway.

Games Workshop has had a really good year.
If your measure of ‘good’ is the current financial year’s numbers, you may not agree. But if your measure is the long-term
survivability of a great cash generating business that still has a lot of potential growth, then you will agree.

W ell, sure.  If you ignore some other facts.  Successful, capable competition, stagnating internal ideas, technological advances threatening production.  Everything is lovely!

He also announces he’s stepping down.  Thank.  Almighty.  God.  For those not paying attention that’s their chief lawyer and their CEO.

So I thought of what I would do if they picked someone more capable.  I figure there’s got to be 4 to 5 billion people who could do a better job running GW than the buffoons right now, and for once that’s not hyperbole.  This company is still operating like the economy is going great, there’s no source of information on alternatives or their own activities, and that local brick and mortar stores are unnecessary to their operations.  None of these things are true, and their inability to realize this is leading them down a dark spiral, and they are even ignorant to this fact.

So what would I do?  Well first off the whole pricing structure needs a radical restructuring.  Prices for GW minis are absolutely ridiculous even granted their high quality.  The prices for the books are even worse.  I would operate on the theory that bringing new people in is absolutely essential to the game.  Books would receive between a 50 and 75% price slash.  If that meant selling them for a loss then so be it.  People without books are people not playing my game.  I want this to be the marketing scheme for next year:

The second thing I want to do is change how the boxed armies are done.  I think GW is inching in this way already (look at the dwarf one for example) but they need to really look at how things are being done outside the company.  They can outprice Privateer Press handily and still attract fans.  Their games are good and their fans are rabid, but they need to encourage more people to pick it up.  Here’s my ideas for their established products:

OVERALL

  1. Get rid of Finecast.  Yesterday.
  2. Reprice all books to 25-50% of their current cost.
  3. Better staff and stocking at GW stores.  These places should be destinations, palaces of GW hobbies with examples and demos going on every hour.  Not sad slovenly stores stocking the most basic material.
  4. Stop.  Suing.  Everyone.  It pisses people off and it is being done far in excess of what is necessary to preserve copyrights.

WARHAMMER FANTASY

  1. Every Box like the Dwarf Box!  Useful models, a good solid core and a little something extra tossed in.  Islands of Blood is another great example.  For $100 dollars you get at least 3-4x what you pay for AND the rulebooks.
  2. Box sizes should equate to regiments.  20 for elite infantry, 30 for line, 40 for swarms.  Pricing will also be going down.  3$ for elite minis, 2$ for the rank and file, 5-7 for cavalry.
  3. Army books brought up to date for legacy armies, Brets, Skaven, Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings, look there’s a lot that needs some love.

WH40k

  1. 1 Book for Marines.  3 Tops.  Not a dozen.  (Not counting CSM)
  2. Price reduction on boxes.  Box sizes are ok.  40 bucks for 10 basic tactical marines isn’t.
  3. Rebalance everything.  I mean a serious balance pass.  Fliers especially but every army needs a good hard look to avoid spamming of OP units.
  4. Encourage the “skirmish” aspect.  Too many games end up like WWI slugfests with neat weapons rather than fast sci fi games with Marines shrugging off loads of fire to desperately try to accomplish their objective.

Other Games

  1. Epic 40k will be back.  Armageddon was a great ruleset that rubbed people the wrong way.  That can be fixed.  Big battles in 40k have always been amazing and there’s no reason not to have this product out there.
  2. Blood Bowl is GW’s best game ever.  Seriously it’s fun, it’s fast paced and it needs to be out front.
  3. LotR… does anyone play this?  How much are we paying for the IP?  Create some fancy models and move on.
  4. Necromunda.  Am I showing my age yet?  This is a hoot of a game and should be re-release with gorkamorka as a twofer.  Maybe even a “big scale” 54mm model game.  Something to throw down once in a while to mix things up.

Finally attempts have to be made to reach out to the community.  A lot of the games biggest supporters have been turned off by GW’s litigious nature, and heavy handed treatment of the humble LGS.  This has got to end.  GW should be proud of each and every store and should offer incentives to high performing stores, not harsh quotas and minimums.  For example a store that runs a tourney every month with a minimum of 10 players gets free scenery packs.  X amount in total sales gets a discount on product, or more favorable payment terms.  Finally I would practically dismantle the GW website for orders.  Let the retailers handle the retail.  Every GW sale takes dollars out of the pockets of the brick and mortar stores that host most Fantasy or 40k games.  Treat these stores well and they will reward GW with higher sales.  Treat them badly and they will wither and it will be more and more difficult for gamers to find a place to play a game.  It will be more and more difficult to bring new people into the hobby, and it will be more and more difficult to increase the companies sales.

This was fun.  Next up:  Privateer Press, and then CCP Games!

Being a Better Opponent

Time for some tabletop Real Talk.  One of my biggest pet peeves in gaming is… well… gamers.  How many times have you brought out the dice, the books, the minis, the plethora of gaming accessories, spent hours preparing the perfect list, the perfect scenario, you have everything ready, and you plunk down at the table to find that your opponent is just a rotten tomato.  Literally.  The guy stinks, is sloppy with how he uses table space, proclaims ignorance of the rules when he makes a mistake, but is an absolute legal expert when it’s in his favor.  His measuring is suspect, his rolls are fishy, and the arguments loud and braying.

I’ve yet to see a gaming group that didn’t include this guy, and there’s more even than that that they do.  So I’m going to run down a list of things that you should pay attention to if you want to encourage people to play with you.

The List

  1. DON’T show up like a slob.  Seriously.  Most gaming places, even modern ones with great setups turn into sweat boxes when you pack 40 fully grown men in there.  Don’t show up smelling like you never encountered a shower in your life.  Brush your fangs, wear deodorant.  You know, high school stuff.  Do some laundry once in a while too.
  2. DON’T hog table space.  Again this is pretty basic manners.  Some game nights there’s barely enough room, or not nearly enough, a game of warmahordes shouldn’t be sprawled over 2 full 8’x4′ tables.  There is just no need at all for it.  use cases, to store minis, stack your books, don’t have templates and counters all over the place, be considerate of others.  Again not rocket surgery.
  3. Be knowledgeable about the rules, no more, no less.  Unless you are “That Guy” in your group.  Don’t feign ignorance on a special rule on a trooper you bring every battle.  Don’t be an absolute expert on an obscure mercenary solo with a special rule you’ve never seen before.  If there’s an actual expert, refer things to them, if not, make a note, roll off, and do the research later.  Unless the game literally rests on the interpretation then feel free to google away on your smartphone.
  4. Kvit your Kvetching!  In my gaming career I’ve ran into literally 0 people who have average luck.  0.  Everyone bemoans their luck, talks about how the dice betray them, how they are always JUST out of range.  Well people, let me tell you, you, yes you, each and every one of you, will roll a 7 or higher 58.3% of the time on 2d6.  You will roll a 1 on a single d6 16.6%. of the time.  You will roll a 6 a grand total of:  16.6% of the time.  Don’t bet your game plan on single dice rolls.  They fail.  Sometimes they fail a lot.  Don’t blame the dice for a loss that resulted from one roll.  Blame your planning that required you to make that one roll or lose.
  5. DO talk it out.  Whether it’s with your opponent or someone else, go over the game, what you were thinking, what your opponent was thinking, and figure out what you did well and what you shouldn’t do.  Both in game and meta game.  This right here will make you a better player, and a more fun opponent to play against.
  6. Bring a theme list.  Not every sunday morning pickup game is a steamroller tournament match.  You don’t need to bring the min/maxed list of death, or even a max sized army list every single time.  Mix it up.  Bring crappy casters.  Play the weird tier lists no one will touch.  Play Warhammer Fantasy with that all High-Elf Cavalry Army you haven’t seen on a table in 3 editions.  Play Empire with nothing but infantry.  Spam Tactical Marines in 40k.  Run an Ork Gunline (no, seriously, try it sometime) the point is play a game for fun rather than just to add a tally to your win column.
  7. Watch games.  See what other people do.  See what looks like it makes the game better, see what looks like it just drains the fun away.  Heck find a mentor if you are a nooblet, either a friend or a more experienced person to step you through your first few games.  If you are more experienced take someone under your wing.
  8. Don’t be a negative nancy.  Seriously, whining all game about something, about how you are doomed, and about how everything is against you, your army is crap, your opponent’s is OP, just makes people never ever ever want to play with you.  Get over it.  Check your attitude at the door.  If you are struggling with your army, look online, find ways to overcome its limitations, and realize that your army isn’t meant to be perfect.  Neither is anyone elses.

Remember it’s about having fun.  When I bring unconventional lists, I have fun.  I bring gimmick lists, I unapologetically bring solid blocks of cheddar, then I bring theme lists that have no ability to win a game.  I probably argue too much and I have to catch myself when I have a run of bad rolls, or even fail a key one, but I’m much better at keeping a lid on it.  

So play the game, and have fun doing it.  Quit making it miserable for others and for yourself.

(note:  I’m not sure where this came from, my last two opponents in DM have been an absolute DELIGHT to play against)

 

Really GW? Really? This is How You Treat Your Supporters?

So this weekend I was in the Twin Cities.  I stopped by the Games Workshop store up there.  MANY years ago my long-suffering family took me to the one in… Seattle?  Vancouver?  Somewhere where it rains a lot.  The place was amazing.  Huge.  Well stocked.  Knowledgeable staff.  Laid out far better than the local gaming stores nearest me.  I was able to get a whole unit of Engineer Outriders, which were nearly impossible to acquire in any conventional manner available to a teenager way back then.  If I was even a teenager.

Fast forward to Saturday.  We get there, GF looks over the Eldar, the plan is to at least get her HQ (Farseer with retinue, or an avatar) and maybe some troops.  Only… there’s no Avatar, and they only have the solo farseer sans retinue.  The one staffer working there comes over, I ask him what’s the haps.  Turns out they are direct order only.  Even for GW stores.  Now I’ve heard a bit about direct order.  More on that in a minute.  I didn’t realize that it applied even to GW stores.  Then I started looking at the shelves.  Almost NONE of the direct order line that I know of was on the shelves at all.  Nothing.  Period.  Bupkis.

I’m not sure if this is just that store or what, but they don’t stock a TON of GW product because it’s not part of the core line.  That’s lousy.  Then I started to look over the store itself.  I am blessed to have a place near me as good as Mayhem Comics of Des Moines.  No they don’t give me a discount either.  The place is big.  Well lit, spacious walkways (which is important when gamers seem to grow side-to-side every year) attractive displays and a HUGE games room.  The only place I think the GW store had a match was the quality of the staff.  The gentleman there on Saturday was top notch.  Knew the product line, had the answers, and as I observed him dealing with other customers he was extremely personable, and a great salesman and an ambassador.  Seriously GW that guy needs to be doing more for you than working at/managing a shop.

But the GW shop was still smaller, less well equipped, and less well staffed with only one guy there on a Saturday, with an Army Book releasing that day.  It lacked the massive game room, shelves and shelves of terrain, and additional stock that the folks at Mayhem keep on hand.  When it comes down to encouraging the hobby, Mayhem does a better job than a GW store in addition to selling other products and even other wargames.

Now about that direct order system.  From what I understand:  Direct Order is a subset of products that aren’t as common, and aren’t considered in as much demand.  Stores are strictly limited in how much they can order in a given month, and it’s a harsh limit.  If you need a lot of this stuff, well, your customer will have to order from GW directly.  This is in addition to GW limitations to online shopping from 3rd parties, which is effectively total.

Now lets add this to GW’s litigious nature.  GW would sue a cockroach for infringement if it grew a birthmark that looked like an aquila.  The very popular site Beasts of War has been hammered frequently with cease and desist letters.  Their partner, Wayland Games, would be massively affected should GW hammer Beasts of War.  Beasts of war is in kind of a unique spot.  Located with Wayland they can probably hit GW staffers with water balloons given a proper slingshot during their lunch break, and as one of the largest and most visible online reporters of wargaming news, they are frankly very large, and very hard to ignore for GW.  It’d be about as subtle as the Red Sox owners putting in a billboard showing playoff results across the street from the Steinbrenners house.  Tough to ignore.

Side note:  Red Sox Nation, can we make that happen?

Now I’m not questioning GW’s right to protect their proprietary information.  I’m questioning their judgement.  They certainly have the right and some level of responsibility when it comes to protecting their info.  I’m actually not even going to question their judgement at this point.  It’s a bad fucking idea to do it in the manner they do.  Stores are ambassadors for their product as well as outlets for sales.  Online news sites drive demand for their products above and beyond what GW manages with their own website and youtube videos.  This would be the equivalent of CCP slamming every single blog, podcast, vlog, or news site that uses their copyrighted material no matter how it was used.  This would be like CCP going after me, the person sitting in this chair, with lawyers and all, for linking a video of one of their trailers.  Literally.  GW has gone after people that linked their own public videos.

The worst ambassador for GW is GW.  Their stores are slipshod affairs.  Their legal team is voracious and out of control.  Their pricing is nonsensical.  I could probably name 50 people who could do a better job running the company than they are and for once it’s not hyperbole.  Those of you that have dealt with them in the past are probably nodding your heads.

They make great games.  They make gorgeous miniatures, and the stores that carry them are worthwhile endeavors.  I’ve played the game since you could get 30 marines for 30 bucks.  I just wish the company at the top of the pyramid was less grimdark and more open and engaging.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can