Finishing Our Imperial Assault Campaign

Though the blog is primarily focused with 40k and all things Games Workshop, game night around my house is anything but.  In fact, because we often have odd numbers of players, people that don’t bring armies, or just attendees that don’t play 40k, we more often than not find ourselves playing board games.

For those wondering, this is the number one reason why I struggle to get in 12 games of 40k per year.

Many in our group are big fans of Star Wars, playing games like Star Wars Destiny, X-Wing, and Armada.  I’ve dabbled in a few of those, but never actually purchased any of them (I figure I have enough sunk costs in 40k and Magic: the Gathering to justify playing yet another massive money sink.)   Well, one of them also went out and purchased a copy of Star Wars: Imperial Assault and even went to the trouble of painting it all up, so that naturally inspired a group of us to start playing. Continue reading

Tyranid Bastion Progress – All the Tentacles

I fudge a lot of timeline stuff for my blog.

TentaclesMy last progress report on my Tyranid bastion went live just last week, but I’d actually done that work back in February and shelved it until recently.  For anyone that reads my Frugal Gaming page, you would’ve seen that I actually made the purchases for green stuff & tentacle makers back then.  Of course, I’m under no delusion that anyone actually reads that part of my site, but it is there to expose how much of a fraud I really am.

Anywho, time has passed and the green stuff and tentacle maker (along with more sculpting tools) have arrived.  They’ve been here for probably over a month as well, but they took a back seat to <No Hobby Progress>.  In an attempt to buck the trend, I busted out the bastion again and started going to town with tentacles.

First, let me say that the tentacle maker I purchased was from Green stuff industries.  Apparently the version I purchased is no longer for sale (man, I must’ve purchased it right at the end of it’s life), and has now been replaced with the version 2.  I’ve heard about these devices in the past, and had a friend who’d tried them out, but never saw a need for one; however, a big empty bastion seemed like the perfect thing to cover with vermiculated tubes.

If you’ve heard that word before, that probably means you played Everquest back in the day–likely as a druid in the Plane of Fear.  I remember thinking it was an odd word when I played the game and wound up looking it up.  It meant “covered in worm-like markings.”  Sure, I probably used the word incorrectly above, but any chance I have to harken back to my days of nerdom past…

So the tentacle maker came and may or may not have had instructions, but I clearly didn’t follow them.  I just rolled up some green stuff and scrubbed it between the plates to see what it did.  I won’t bore you with too many of the details, but I will go through some of the things I discovered during my use:

  1. Tentacles (3)Water is your friend.  I found that the green stuff likes to stick to the plates, but if you just coat each one with a little water, they glide smoothly.
  2. At first I would just put the green stuff between the plates however I felt, and that works, but it does have the potential to make the corrugated lines less defined.  This is because the plates are designed to line up with each other.  If you use the supplied guides when making them, you’ll end up with the well defined versions.  If, however, you wing it and do whatever you like, the plates may not line up correctly and that seems to lead to the less well defined lines (and therefore more worm-like appearance).  Frankly, I like them both, but it was interesting to note.
  3. I apparently didn’t capture a picture of it, but if you alternate the plates so they’re facing different directions, you can get an effect that’s similar to an Imperial Termite’s drill bits.  It’s really kind of nifty looking, but not one that I was able to easily recreate.  I wish I’d have taken a picture to show you…
  4. Timing the putty is kind of important.  At first, I rolled up a batch of green stuff and just started going to town.  What I found was that it was very soft and lead to me accidentally touching it when working on other tentacles–it also meant that they stuck together a lot.  Alas, I only seem to have taken photos of the back of it, and the front of it is where I had most of my problems (I likely took the rear pictures because of this–the back just looks cleaner/better).  So what I found later is that it’s best to let the green stuff cure for 30 minutes or so before working with it.  It was much more resilient to my ham-fisted efforts after it had been given time to dry.
  5. Again on the timing, I think that you’re going to want to do this sort of work in stages.  Certainly if you’re building up a model with layers of green stuff, it’s best to let the base cure before adding another layer.  The same logic wound up serving me well here–even though I’m not really dealing with layers.  I found that the tentacles all started drooping if I allowed the model to stand up naturally, so I laid it on it’s side and worked in stages: front, back, & top.

Tentacles (2)This go around I didn’t do any changes to the model other than putting tentacles all over it.  Since it was my first time, I didn’t know what I was doing or where to stop.  I wonder if it’s a little over the top, or if it’s the right amount?  Frankly, I suspect that whatever you want to do is the right amount, but it seemed like a pretty good place to start.

Based upon the sheer quantity of them, it’s probably pretty clear that I had fun making the tentacles.  I’m also really happy with how it makes the armor plates look–they don’t feel as goofy as they did before.  I’m not sure if that’s really the green stuff, or the fact that the model has had several months to grow on me though?

My next stage will be working on some more detail work.  I’ll need to cover up the metal bits on the various hatches, plus I want to try to work in some more transitional elements between the carapace pieces and the underlying tree/volcano structure.  I wound up buying some more sculpting tools to help me out with that.

By the way, if you’re looking into purchasing a tentacle maker, I’d certainly recommend this one.  I found it via ebay, but noticed that if you buy direct from their website, it’s far cheaper.  Shipping is very reasonable, and fast (considering it’s coming from Europe).  Then again, if you’re local, you’re welcome to come borrow mine as well…

 

“Ultramarines: the Movie” Review

Back in 2010, Games workshop released a full-length digitally animated movie set in the 40k Universe called “Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie.”  Given that my chapter of choice is the boys in blue, it seemed inevitable that I’d own a copy of it.

Of course, I’m a cheapskate and didn’t want to pay MSRP on a GW item, so I put off purchasing it in the hopes that someone else would let me borrow it sometime.  Years passed and I almost forgot about it–well, until last year when Kurt was goodly enough to purchase it for me for Christmas.

For some reason, it took me almost a full year to actually sit down and watch the movie, despite the fact that it was sitting in a DVD case on my mantle.  It’s not because I was too busy, or insufficiently bored.  It was a little out of the way, so it was easy to forget about, but I’m sure it also had something to do with the reviews.

You see, everyone I’d spoken with who saw the movie generally said the same thing: if you like walking, you’ll love this movie!  Each person seemed to say that the movie largely consists of a squad of marines walking, and walking, and walking with very little action.  Some also mentioned the fact there was a landspeeder that zipped around from here to there, but almost nobody spoke of the action.

ultramarinesmovielogo-20170404-500pxAnd there’s good reason for that: despite being a movie set to the theme of a futuristic war-torn battle game, there really isn’t that much in the way of fighting.  The movie is really more of a coming of age story of a newly anointed marine into that of a captain.  Given that the average person playing the game, that seems like a questionable decision.  It would seem more likely that people who purchased the movie really expected to see more of an action flick than they did a movie about maturation.  I think that’s ultimately why a lot of the reviews are a little sour.

Overall, I think it was a pretty decent film.  Rather than go through a detailed review of everything, I thought I’d list a few things that I liked and a few that I thought could’ve been better improved.  Let’s start with the former:

Three things that I liked above the movie:

  1. The voice actors.  It took a little getting used to the fact that all the marines were British, but when you consider that’s where the game was born, it makes sense.  The level of voice actors that they got for what seems to be a low-budget movie was relatively impressive though.  I mean, General Zod from Superman and Winston Smith from 1984 (or, if you’d prefer, the bad guy from V for Vendetta)?
  2. The apothecary.  He was a stoic sort of character that really served as a role model as the young recruits developed.  He was especially solemn when extracting the geneseed from fallen comrades, and he had a cool light on his backpack that turned wherever his head faced (something that the actual model has, but I’ve never really considered before).
  3. Little things with big meanings.  It was subtle, but things that are often ignored elsewhere seemed to stand out as having actual value.  For instance, it was never spoken of, but they made an effort to ensure that the standard never hit the floor during combat.  As soon as one marine fell, another would wordlessly take up the banner and continue to fight on.  Likewise, fights themselves seemed to mean something.  Even when it was just a small skirmish between them and a chaos marine or two, spatter of bolter fire would cause real damage (unlike in the table-top game), and heavy-bolter fire was enough to take down a citadel.

And here are three things that I would’ve liked to have seen done differently:

  1. codexmarineThe graphics.  The graphics in video games are never as good as the cut scenes.  The graphics in this movie seemed more akin to those in the actual game than they did to those of the cutscenes.  Granted, the film is now 5 years old, but I don’t play video games anymore, so I’m basically comparing it to games of that era.  They looked alright, but I would’ve have been overly surprised to see any one of those characters walk into the original Morrowind video game either.  They also had some weird proportions on the marines themselves.  In particular, the backpacks and the helmets looked out of place, both were too tall and narrow.
  2. The animation.  Much of it was decent, but there were a few things that really stood out.  In particular, the gait of the marines looked off.  Watching them walk wouldn’t have been bad if they walked at all normal.  Also, the banner seemed to stick out to me.  Though it was strung up on both the top and the bottom, it really never moved.  Seeing as the majority of the film took place on a desert planet wracked with windstorms, you would think that it would’ve moved a bit more.
  3. The flamer marine seemed to discharge his weapon an unnecessary amount as he walked around.  Having never been in the miltary, maybe this is something one must do to keep the weapon operational, but I think they just got giddy with the flame effect and wanted to use it more…

Overall, I think it was a decent movie.  It wasn’t a must-see by any means, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wasn’t already interested in the 40k universe; however, if you are (and you must be, if you find yourself on this blog), and you can rationalize that the movie isn’t entirely about killing things, it’s worth checking out.  I’m not sure I’d buy it, but if you know someone who owns it, there are worse ways you can spend an hour.  And, if you’re local, feel free to borrow it from me…

Image Credit: All image copyright Games Workshop.

Assassinorum: Execution Force Review

I’ve been trying to get back on the wagon with hobbying, so I’m trying to steer game nights in the direction so that I actually get to play some 40k.  I’ve had very little success in that arena as of late, but I’m making small progress.  This week, we at least played games that were themed in the 40k universe: Conquest & Assassinorum: Execution Force.

I’ve played Conquest before, and even done a bit of a “review” on it before, so I won’t say much on that topic other than to say that Kurt brought it over along with some expansions and we played a game of it.  He won due to a combination of good play on his part, and bad play of my own.  It was refreshing to see the new cards/themes in the expansions, but we eventually put it away when Brandon showed up to play the new board game.

I should say that I always categorize these sort of posts as “product reviews,” but I don’t really do any sort of detailed review in them.  I don’t figure anyone is coming to this blog for a detailed review, and there are already a load of them elsewhere on the internet.  So, I’m really just giving my opinion on things at a high level perspective.

Component Quality:

GWAssassinEversorThe component quality overall was quite high.  The obvious winner here is the sculpts of the assassins themselves: they’re very dynamic and a vast improvement over the older models.  In particular, the Eversor is amazing.  It’s really a shame that GW has yet to release these as the new defacto standard for assassins moving forward.

Aside from the Assassins, the other models weren’t very impressive.  The cultists are the same as you’d get from the Dark Vengeance boxed set, so they’re fine quality and it makes sense that they’d reuse the sculpts/molds that they have on hand.  For whatever reason though, for the three chaos space marines, they didn’t use the cool ones from Dark Vengeance but packaged in some goofy looking static posed models from the late 90’s–which seemed like a real loss.  The chaos sorcerer seems like a simple conversion (also a static pose) of the CSM: Terminator Lord.  So, he’s pretty grand, but also a tad bit on the dated side.

Rules:

Overall the rules were fairly good.  Each assassin really seemed to have the rules you’d expect when translated from 40k, and they were simplified to be easier to grasp in the short amount of time expected when you play a board game (for instance, you no longer roll to wound by comparing strength against toughness: instead, each model has a “resilience” rating that indicates how difficult they are to wound: cultists have a 4+; CSM’s have a 5+; and the lord/assassins have a 6+.  Some weapons give you additional dice and/or modifiers to that roll).

One of the misses we found in the rules were that the eversor has to voluntarily give his own life to explode in the game (I guess this is so that you don’t inadvertently blow up your friends).  I wish they would’ve just said that when he dies, he can choose to explode or not to.

There are also issues with chaos models going on Alert due to the way line of sight works.  For instance, if you have two cultists side by side and one is killed, it doesn’t automatically alert the next cultist, as he’s not in his line of sight.  That seems like it should be changed.

Otherwise, there was some wonkiness with models that spawn in a room but don’t have directional arrows indicating how they exit.  We ran into situations where a model would spawn in a room, but not be in line of sight of an assassin, so he wouldn’t have clear guidance as to where he was supposed to patrol when he started moving (although, in hind sight, I’m thinking that they start stunned, and there’s another rule that says once a model loses stunned, he automatically goes on Alert: so maybe this isn’t a problem after all–perhaps we just played it wrong?)

Difficulty:

GWassassinorumExecutionForceThe game really seemed too easy until we made it into the final lair.  We all had separated and dashed through the larger board quickly, killing basically everything in our path.  It was rare for us to draw multiple event cards, as most cultists died shortly after they arrived (And certainly shortly after they went on alert).  We didn’t find the control room until the very last room (the game has a mechanic to make it likely that you don’t find them quickly), so then we ran into the inner sanctum to fight off the chaos lord.

At that point, the level of difficulty swung dramatically to the difficult side.  Immediately we had three space marines in our faces, and started spawning a number of cultists.  The board was smaller, so they started chain-reactions of alerts, and we were drawing 4-6 event cards per turn.  I was playing the Callidus, and darted into the summoning chamber, but didn’t pester the lord, until my crew had arrived.  Sadly, all except the culexus had perished without making it into the chamber, but I somehow managed to do two wounds to him before the timer ran out (without taking a wound myself–as he kept getting stunned).  I would’ve killed him had the game gone to turn 17, but that’s not how it works… and we lost the day.

Overall:

Overall, I’d say the game is fair.  The assassins look fantastic, and the game was moderately fun to play.  If I owned it, I’m sure I’d play it a couple of more times, but I really feel like I’d grow bored of it before too long.  GW did include a list of “Achievements” which are supposed to give it some replay value but, based upon my MMORPG experience, I’ve learned to view Achievements as a thinly veiled attempt to justify the grind.

With a sticker price north of $100, I’m glad I didn’t buy it, but I would love to own the models.  Of course, if GW releases them separately, you know they’re going to be $20-30 each anyway.  Oh well, not like I need more assassins…  If you’re looking for a great board game, I’d look elsewhere, but if you want those assassins, the price is pretty steep, but a couple of evenings of board gaming might justify the cost for you.

Image Credit: Games Workshop

 

Suburbia: City Building Board Game on IOS

I’m a bit of a sucker for good deals.  You may have already realized this if you’ve been following my Frugal Gaming updates, wherein I can’t seem to say no to buying anything remotely hobby related if I think I can resell it and make a quick buck (or a really slow buck, as it typically is, since I’m too lazy to list things on ebay).  So, when I found a recommendation to buy a game that was on sale and highly rated, I wound up jumping in–I mean, how fun does it really have to be to justify a $2.99 price tag?

Having never heard of the game before (and not knowing anyone who played it), and a real lack of an in-depth tutorial, it was a little difficult to pick up.  The premise of the game is that you’re a city planner (I guess) and are laying out various residential, commercial, and industrial areas to arrange a city (I’ve omitted whatever they call the gray areas, which consist of things like schools, municipal buildings, etc.  I guess they’re government zoned?).

Each town has three difficulty levels which, after unlocking, lead to expanding to more towns/difficulty levels.  Each town has it’s own mission that needs to be accomplished that typically involves some variation of ensuring a minimum/maximum level of:

  • City income
  • Population
  • Appearance
  • Cash on hand

SuburbiaGameThe easy level isn’t easy in most examples (in fact, some of them took me upwards of a dozen attempts to beat on the easiest setting), and the hard levels seem to be designed so that tiles have to come up in a specific order for them to even be possible to achieve (I’ve only beaten a couple of cities on that setting, despite my efforts).

In total, there are about 10 different cities (forgive me, I’m going from memory here), each with their own twists.  Beating them tends to unlock another city/difficulty level, and they culminate in a city in England (Essex, I believe).  The weird thing is that many of the cities seem to have nothing to do with unlocking a path to Essex, so I guess they’re just there for fun?

The weirdest part about the game is the scoring.  Each tile has stated ramifications to the various score tracks.  So, when you place a tile on the board, it may be affected by other nearby tiles.  But the scoring seems almost arbitrary.  If you place a tile with +1 appearance in one section, it might give you +1 appearance, but it might also give you +0 or even as low as -5.  I’m sure that the game is basing this upon other qualifications that I have no understanding of, but it almost seems whimsical how each piece/location affects a given score.  It’s because of this seemingly random behavior that I can’t beat the games on the hardest setting (I swear that when I put a +10 population tile in San Francisco at the end, it only gives me +2 population for some reason).

It’s also because of that factor, that I fear playing the game in real life would be completely unmanageable.  If I can’t grok the scoring at all through the digital game, how difficult would it be to manage in real life?

I find that I played it for a  few hours and am pretty much done with the game now (despite not beating every city/difficulty level).  Was it worth $3?  Sure, but what isn’t worth $3 anymore?  I would love to understand how the scoring system works, but I don’t think I could recommend this game as a board game.  If you’ve got $3 burning a hole in your pocket though, you could certainly do worse than this…