Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Black Crusade: Tome of Fate - About Time!

Literally six months after it was announced, I've finally got my Tome Of Fate source book for Black Crusade.  As Amazon had withdrawn it from sale, I assumed there was a problem getting these in the UK.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find it in the local (and not terribly friendly) comic book store.  

I have that male habit of flicking through a book/newspaper from the back to the front, but I've yet to sit down and have a proper read.  Looks pretty sweet though.

Rubric Marine goons?  Yes please!

Tome of Fate includes a complete adventure.

Profiles are included for all Necrons in the current GW range!

Ooooh, fluffy.

Plenty of weird artwork going on...

along with some awesome pieces too.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Painting Excused #3 Hangover

I had a long and productive day of painting scheduled today. Unfortunately, my body proved unequal to the simple task of coping with the smallest of nights out lastnight, instead consigning me to inactivity, dehydration and general groaning: simply sqeaking I was hungover!

Not entierly a wasted day though as I watched the start of the twenty twenty cricket and through some episodes of Star Trek: TNG, but not what I had planned.  It's a holiday this weekend so hopefully I'll get some painting in then (although there is a lot of sport on again...)

Oddly, this book arrived today, Anzio by Lloyd Clark.  It's obviously second hand, but I have no idea where or who it came from and I certainly didn't buy it!  I presume it's from someone on eBay who shipped it to me instead of someone else.  Not something I'd probably have bought myself, but I'm not going to say no to a free read!  I hoped there was a mysterious card tucked in there saying "Loiren Hotel, Paris, 29th September, bring the stuff" but sadly, not.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bolt Action - First Impressions

Amazon managed to send out Bolt Action rulebook, only about ten days after the official release date, which wasn't too bad.  So ends my attempts to paint up a platoon before the rules were released (who am I kidding, I'd have a better chance of becoming Prime Minister than finishing a nerd project on time!)  I thought I'd put up some of my first impressions from the rules, not a review as such, just what jumped out at me after reading and playing.

Physically, Bolt Action is similar to Osprey's other hardback rulebooks like Force On Force or the Field of Glory range; lots of artwork from both Orsprey and Warlord Games, as well as lots of photos of Warlords miniatures.

The rules themselves take up about half of the book, with the scenarios and army lists take up the remaining pages.  Although that is a lot of pages of rules, the basic rules themselves are surprisingly brief, particularly as the pages are taken up with lots of diagrams and photos.  In keeping with Warlord's other rulebooks, there are also lots of little panels filled with trivia about particular weapons, tanks or anecdotes from World War 2, a really nice touch.

The order system is a nice little element to the game, nothing ground breaking, but it simply means that activating a unit isn't always automatic (think Black Powder or Hail Caesar.)

The random unit activation doesn't seem as much of a negative as I thought it would be, in fact, there looks to be a bit of depth to the mechanic.  Quickly, each unit in the game has an order dice, all dice from both sides are placed in bag or cup and are drawn out one at a time, each dice lets the relevant player activate one unit.  A couple of things to keep in mind; forcing a unit to go "down" before it has activated removes it's order dice from the pool, giving your opponent less activations that turn, while going into "ambush" makes one of your own dice unavailable for the next turn, again limiting the activations available.

The pinning mechanic is very simple, but elegantly affects every facet of the game.  Again quickly, a unit takes one pin marker for each enemy unit that fires upon it (some weapons inflict more than one marker,) each pin marker inflicts a -1 modifier to your order tests, shooting attacks and morale tests.  So more pins makers, the harder it is for your unit to be effective.  It's kind of a risk management mechanic where you have to decide to actively remove pin markers or to try to move or attack and manage the pin markers on your unit. Simple concept, lots of depth.

Combat looks pretty straightforward, a standard "to hit" score of 3+ with lots of modifiers (mostly negative,) with a fixed kill score based on how experienced your troops are.  A nice wee twist to the shooting is that if a "to hit" score goes above 6+ (Bolt Action only six sided dice exclusively,) the roll simply becomes a 6 followed by a 6, so no having to work out what an 8+ or 9+ would be.  Again, shooting looks to be pretty quick with just the two steps (roll to hit, roll to kill,) which kind of explains why the sample army lists from Warlord Games were much larger than I thought they would be.

Close quarters (melee) combat is suitably brutal, even more so than in Flames of War. Simply charge, take the defence fire, then both sides roll to kill.  No saves of any kind and assaults are always resolved in one turn, with one unit being removed from the table.  In rare circumstances, it looks possible for both units to wipe each other out too.

There are a nice mix of weapon and unit special rules, many of which aren't used with the army list in the book.  Presumably, we'll see a lot more of these in the nation supplement books.  Most of the special rules read like they are appropriate to what they are describing, flamethrowers work like they should, assault weapons are good in assaults, that kind of thing, but I haven't tried out too many of them yet.

The six scenarios included in the book are mixed nicely and are simply what you would expect from a wargame rulebook.  There's a free-for-all mission, a hold the line mission, a couple objective missions etc.  Nothing startling springs out at me, but on the other hand, nothing seems out of place or missing either.

I've only skimmed through the vehicle, building and artillery rules, all of which look appropriate enough, if a little simple when it comes to vehicle profiles, my concern being there isn't a huge amount of difference between different tanks etc.  The four army lists have a good mix of units for each nation, with options for veteran and green troops, along with plenty of support units.  A little flavour is added through the different army special rules, eg. the feared German machine guns roll extra shooting dice, while the Soviets get a free squad of conscripts for their army.  Nice enough, but I hope there will be a lot more depth from the nation supplement books.

Having only had a couple small games, I'm pretty impressed by Bolt Action.  The rules are simple enough to grasp the basics on the first read through, but I think there will be enough depth to keep me interested.  As with all games, how enjoyable you find Bolt Action will depend on different factors, most of which are nothing to do with the rules themselves; your opponent, your armies and the table you play on.  I'm looking forward to getting some games in at the club in the near future.

P.S.  Sorry for the wordy post, still having trouble uploading images, I had to resort to hotlinking the picture above!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Fear To Tread - Two Minute Review

When it comes to reviews, it takes a pretty strong reaction to force me to put one up on the blog here.  And a strong reaction is exactly what was provoked by the latest Horus Heresy 40K novel, Fear To Tread by James Swallow.

Over the previous twenty books, the Horus Heresy series has shown us a side to the 40K universe that we haven't seen before.   However that unique viewpoint of the Horus Heresy has been lost and it often feels we're just going through the motions, until the authors get round to the battle for Earth.  In my opinion, the best HH books (Legion, The First Heretic, Fulgrim) have been those that start before Horus has fallen to Chaos and chart those events from another Legions point of view.  Some (The Outcast Dead, Mechanicum, Nemesis) were just garbage.

Now when you read 
licensed fiction (i.e. something set in a pre-existing universe,) you accept that the author doesn't have free reign as to where they take their story.  Accepting that, you are entitled to expect some core elements from the existing universe.  When it comes to 40K and the Horus Heresy books, that includes plenty of action, decent dialogue, appropriate imagery and an insight into the particular legion you're reading about.

Fear to Tread
does a pretty good job of portraying the Blood Angels; loyalty and division in droves.  The dialogue is pretty engaging too and from unexpected quarters; the dialogue between Horus, the daemon and the Word Bearer is outstanding, as is the way the plot to turn Sanguinius to Chaos is revealed.  Sadly, the rest of the book is spent trawling through some rather underwhelming bolter-porn.  As the legion succumbs to rage and mindless violence, all the finesse in the writing disappears.  I lost all respect for the book when a group of Space Marines were attacked by lampposts.  Yes, you read that correctly.

Then there's the blood.  Yes, they're Blood Angels and a lot of the imagery and 
symbolism of that legion revolves around the idea of blood; loyalty, sacrifice, anger, violence, family etc.  Fear to Tread really takes this to extremes, however, and some of it is comical - Wait, that blood isn't Blood Angel Blood, that blood is someone else's blood!  Sigh.

Sadly, I'd hoped for so much more from
Fear To Tread.  Although the plot is engaging enough, the the writing nowhere nearly up to scratch; really a big missed opportunity.  What really surprises me is the number of 10/10 or ***** reviews you can see online.  Seriously?  I know GW have a lot of fanboys out there, but overall Fear To Tread is just terrible!  Hopefully we won't see James Swallow near another HH book for some time.  Abnett has another Eisenhorn/Ravenor book out later this year, all I'm saying is that it had better be good or I'm going to have to start sending out those threats again.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bolt Action Plans

Although I don't have the rule book yet, I've been looking at the options for my Waffen SS force for Bolt Action.  Thanks to a couple great posts on WWPD and the Warlord Games site, you can get a rough idea how many points your force will amount to.

Firstly, my initial force should look something like:

Officer with a radio team and a medic
2 squads each with 1 LMG, 2 smg, 1 assault rifle and 1 Panzerfaust
81mm Mortar team
MG42 HMG team

That should come in at just under 500 points and, handily, includes all the stuff I either have at the moment or have ordered and am waiting for.  Once they've all been painted and (presumably) I've managed to have a few games, I think I'll add in:

PaK 40 team
MG42 team (another one)
Panzerschreck team (or two)
1 reduced squad with 1 LMG and an smg 
Armour, either a Panzer IV or a StuG

That should take the force upto the 1000 point mark.  From this point, assuming I've still got the mojo for it, I'd like to double up the LMGs and add some halftracks for a full panzergrenadier force, drop in some specialist troops like a snipers, flamethrowers or pioneers and maybe .  Based on Scipio's effort  I also really want to paint up a Schwimmwagen (ain't it cute!)

P.S.  Our internet access is still out and the mobile broadband stick I've got is really playing up, hence no photos or WIP shots lately.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Internet's Down!!! RAAAARRRGGHHHH!

Yup, my isp managed to disconnect our land line, so we're officially off the grid.  I've picked up one of these mobile internet dongles from my mobile phone company, but the connection is terrible!

One of my pet peeves is people won't don't do their jobs properly and this is a classic case of that.  Long story short, my isp thought our service was do to end (it wasn't,) so I confirmed with them, twice, that there would be no change or interruption.  Boom! Two weeks later, disconnected.  Raging doesn't even begin to describe it.  I haven't decided yet what to do long term, but I'll need something better than this before too long!

On the gaming front, I managed to get to the club this week for the first time in weeks.  So I've got a couple games scheduled for later in the month.  Other than that, work continues on my 28mm SS and on my little side project, and the first batch of recent purchases have arrived (40K box set and some Osprey books.)