Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Top Mordheim Board

Paid a flying visit to Titan Games Stourbridge on Saturday and saw this stunning Mordheim-like board setup. I can see Warhammer, Lord of the Rings and laser-cut MDF terrain in there.

It turns out that this isn't actually the possession of the shop - this is owned by a local tattoo shop (this one, I presume) and has been put together for the staff's personal Mordheim campaign. Titan have it on loan/display as the tattoo shop is moving and temporarily need somewhere to put it. Wouild love to play Song of Blades and Heroes on this.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Games Workshop Shops Why Do They Even Bother?

Been to Worcester today since it's the Bank Holiday and the weather was nice.

Worcester is the sort of picturesque town (yeah, I know it's technically a city but calling it a city gives entirely the wrong mental picture) with half-timbered buildings and loads of shops that gets Midlanders saying "it's a Bank Holiday and the weather is nice, let's have a lazy day out in Worcester". So the place was full of tourists milling around and browsing the many shops, of which  Worcester has a number all out of keeping with it's size and importance. Lots of families, lots of young kids.

You run a shop in Worcester, you keep it open on Bank Holidays and summery Sundays. Mana Leak was open, Videodrome was open.

So, of course, Games Workshop was shut.

I know that GWs have recently started adopting pointless opening hours more in keeping with a second-hand bookshop run by somebody who is disinterested in actually selling books and seeing customers but to keep a glorified toy shop shut on a major shopping/tourism day in a town in which much of the Midlands decamps to on that day? What?

I checked their opening hours on Facebook. Apparently they weren't open on Bank Holiday Monday because they don't open Mondays. Or Tuesdays. So they are only open five days a week. And the opening hours of the other days don't show any consistency either with 1100 to 1700 on Wednesday and Thursday (i.e. shutting as people finish work), 1200 to 2000 on Friday, 1000 to 1800 on Saturday and 1100-1700 on Sunday.

(That latter is something that annoys me about Sunday Opening Hours in England and Wales. The original 1990s post-Sunday Trading Bill standard of 10-4 seems to be tweaked to 11-5 in some places creating a big endian/little endian issue whereby you never really know when a shop will open or close and you get turned away from Tescos Burnt Tree by security staff at five to four on a Sunday because you thought you had a hour to do your shopping. Standardisation eh?)

These are not the hours of a major high street retail chain. These are the hours of a tiny one-man band business that can't get the staff in to cover.

This isn't a criticism of the staff or management of GW Worcester as frankly all GWs seem to be going that way. GW Birmingham doesn't open on Tuesday or Wednesday! It's clearly a problem of trying to run shops on inadequate numbers of staff in the interests of skimping on costs. But both those shops (Brum and Worcester) are in excellent positions in the centre of large shopping areas (presumably not cheap) and if you have to leave both fallow for two weekdays each and every week and can't respond to busy shopping days that fall in this 48 hour period, what the fucking fuck are you doing trying to run shops Workshop?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

¡Calabozos Tenebrosos!

Apropos of nothing, here's Dark Dungeons in Spanish.

Not Dead Just Dead Lazy Picture Post

One of 40K's many shark jumping moments.

Yours truly caught at one of his other hobbies that of levitating model helicopters via the power of telekinesis. Oh, and Scalextric slot-racing.

Want. I don't even own a Chelsea Tractor.

My Dreadball Orks Marauders, in Old School Blood Bowl "Lowdown Rats" colours. Absolutely fucking rubbish team.

Dance Kali, Dance!

Early GW Finecast Imperial Guard prototype.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Liebster Award

Stygianheart nominated me for this Liebster Award bollocks thing so here are eleven truths about self.

1 - I had my eyes laser corrected about four years ago but as I was already used to wearing contact lenses I generally forget this ever happened. The only thing this life-changing event ever comes to mind is when I get asked at work to read tiny serial numbers off server chassis and IMEI codes off SIM cards.

2 - The most amazing place I have ever been is Hampi in Karnataka and the journey there was almost as spectacular as I got to fulfil an ambition since childhood and ride a train in India. The route from Goa goes across the Dudhsagar Falls, up and over the Western Ghats where the line runs higher than the jungle canopy (so that you look down from the train onto the jungle) and then down onto the Deccan plateau. All this in a train with bars on the windows (no glass), red dust, beggars and buskers, and curry delivery service to your seat. Fantastic experience. Would do it again at the drop of a hat.

3 - I have a strange ambition to travel in a submarine but I have absolutely no idea why as I know I would suffer from claustrophobia and it's not like submarines have windows so you wouldn't see anything. I'm sure that being locked in a constricted boiler room for a fortnight would give a good simulation of life aboard a sub.

4 - I don't like bacon. It's the most over-rated meat on the planet.

5 - When everybody else at university in the mid 1990s was driving Fiestas, Vauxhall Novas and Nissan Micras I was driving to lectures in a 1976 Triumph TR7. When it worked.

6 - Because I worked on IT projects for the newspaper industry that got bought by the (NFSW) Sunday Sport and had to go and visit their offices regularly, I get ribbed to this day as having "worked in the sex industry". When I left that particular project, a guy who used to work for The Church of England took over my role of laughing at telephone sex lines being played on the phone speaker in the office, hearing about "tuna pants" (don't ask) and fault-finding as to why working girls' phone numbers that had gone through our databases had ended up going to print swapped with those of old dears in Lancaster.

7 - I once went to change gear in a Ferrari 355 at considerable speed but forgot it was a left-hooker hence I took my left hand off the wheel and rammed it hard into the map pocket inside the door and then got it stuck. My instructor was quite phlegmatic about this all things considered.

8 - As a Blackcountryman I regard spicy curry as a birthright.

9 - A friend of my parents once stupidly let me take the controls of his helicopter somewhere over Wales. When I was eleven.

10 - I went to the same school as Robert Plant, Clint Mansell and Samuel Johnson of "A Dictionary of the English Language" and Blackadder the Third fame

11 - I have been a TV License refusenik for over four years.

And the answers to Stygianheart's 11 questions.

1. How did you first get into your hobby?

My local libraries had (scattered across all of them) what was probably a complete collection of Donald Featherstone's books on wargaming which were really easy to read and understand what he was talking about. This would be about 1983/1984 and wargaming was still pretty big in the public conscious from having hit a peak in the 1970s - it wasn't an obscure hobby by any means. Lots of things happened all at once around then, the first Fighting Fantasy books came out, and Lone Wolf followed them pretty quickly. At the time my Father was teaching at a local technical college and had his finger on the pulse of "youth" things so he'd heard of D&D and having seen my FF books was able to tell me that it seemed similar to this game he'd seen played in the canteen.

2. Who is your favourite artist/s or hobbyist/s and would you like to emulate their style/s?

Game artists - I like early John Blanche, Gary Chalk, Russ Nicholson, Iain McCaig, Chris Achilleos and Wil Rees. Outside of game art Rodney Matthews. Outside of game art and fantasy/sci-fi Klimt, Lempicka, Beardsley and Stuck.

I am a great fan of visiting local galleries (Birmingham, Walsall), being blown away by the chance to examine great art in depth and coming away having completely forgotten the names of the artists whose work I've been lost in for hours.

Hobbyists - Nobody really although my "Sunday best" painting style (gloss varnish and lots of Rotring doodling) is influenced by the stuff that Blance and Aly Morrison had featured in early 'Eavy Metals. I used to be very influenced by Kevin Dallimore whose article in a Miniature Wargames many years ago turned me from not having a clue to being able to produce really good black-undercoated stuff within a couple of hours but that led to a period of progressively slower and slower output (as I was reaching new peaks in every model I attempted) and I eventually grew to despair of ever painting a complete army leading to utter burnout and a retreat from wargaming for a few years. I don't use the Dallimore style anymore.

3. What is the worst hobby related accident you have suffered? (this can be physical or bad paint-job etc)

I was trimming flash off a base of a solid base figure with a Stanley knife (cutting towards finger in idiot fashion) and suddenly had the feeling that something badly wrong had happened. I looked at the middle knuckle of left index figure and there was a half-inch slice of flesh missing to the point where I was able to probe the wound and touch my own vein. Your veins aren't as blue as you think they will be! I remember thinking that this really should fucking hurt like fuck and that it didn't was ever so slightly something to worry about. Fairly certain I went into shock over this as it refused to hurt and I got the bizarre idea in my mind that I absolutely must find this piece of flesh and dispose of it before the family dog found it, swallowed it and got a taste for manflesh. Clearly not rational thought.

4. What have you wanted to do in the hobby but have put off for a long time?

I guess the current 15mm Rogue Trader project fits under this heading but in reality it was one of those things waiting for the right time.

5. Would you say you are more a hobbyist or gamer and why?

It's not a dichotomy. If you say you are a gamer, people tend to assume you can't be arsed with painting and so just play Warmahordes, powergamed and behaving like a twat. If you say you are a hobbyist, people tend to assume you can't be arsed with playing. I'd say 60 gamer/40 hobbyist although that swings around a bit dependent upon current gaming interests. Depends upon the project.

6. Do you have a comfort zone in painting technique or colours that you tend to fall back on?

Guilty as charged. I use the same colour combinations all the time. In my defence though, I know that unless I can churn out figures quickly and easily my enthusiasm plummets. It's either paint in the comfort zone or not at all. It's a hobby interest not some exercise in self-improvement.

7. Do you like to have the right atmosphere when working on your hobby, music, movies, quiet?
Doesn't bother me. I live on my own so it's always quiet. I'm not a great enthusiast of music or DVDs to be honest.

8. What was the first miniature you ever bought/painted?

The first "miniature" I painted would be a 1:32 scale Airfix British Para when I was about five - gloss red Matchbox enamel smeared on the beret, gloss black on the Sten gen. I had loads of these things all of which appear to have been chucked out by my parents about five minutes before I discovered "real" wargaming. The first Citadel I owned was the Adventurers Starter Set that was a Christmas present alongside my Red Box D&D set. As for buying myself, it would be a bunch of second-hand Citadels I bought from some older kids at school - I can only remember getting pre-slotta Guardsman Heeley and the Chaos Death Jester/The Motley Maniac. No, I don't have the latter anymore in case anyone asks!

9. What one hobby item (miniature/game system) that's long out of production/rare, would you love to have?

For a long time it was OGRE Miniatures which I now own. Before that Dungeonquest but then I picked up the FFG release. I'm not sure there is anything now.

10. What else do you like to do to pass the time?

I race slotcars (Scalextric things) at a local club, have a season ticket at West Bromwich Albion and drive sportscars - I've owned a sportscar of various descriptions for nearly 20 years now which I suppose basically scratches the same itch that manifest as a motorbike in others. I used to be a keen computer/vidya gamer but can't summon up any enthusiasm for modern style games.

11. When you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, what would you like to happen to your hobby collection?

Don't care. It's only toys. If the nephew retains his interest he can have the lot.


Now I'm supposed to come up with eleven question and target eleven other blog keepers. But you know what? Fuck chain letters so ask yourself eleven questions and do what you like. :)


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A Game of Rouge Trader and 15 Things You'd Forgotten About Rouge Trader circa September 1987

Captain Gluteus Maximus of the Ultramarines Chapter (you know them, they have that half-Eldar Chief Librarian) recently got summoned to the frontier world of Stourbridge to sort out some problem with an Astropath relay station that was no longer transmitting. However this latter point wasn't very important because there were FUCKIN XENOS in the town.

(And cowboys. Mainly because the game was built around Finney's huge collection of MDF Wild West buildings and 28mm Gunfighters. Humans with the usual stat line, armed with a motley collection of stub guns, shotguns and autoguns, and a few Malifaux figures.).

(There was also something about an undercover Inquisitor called Inquisitor Sherlock Rebus who was disguised as a cowboy - I didn't pay much attention to this because FUCKIN XENOS)

(I suspect that rather than being Space Cowboys, they were really Groxboys because lets be honest in 1987-World they'd be herding Grox - 'Hairless Apes Eat Grox Dung' and all that).

Anyway, this me deciding to sort out the FUCKING XENOS problem by running it down with a Rhino driven by Auto-Drive.

This worked rather well, even though one of the first rules amendments to 40K was to stop shitty weak infantry damaging big fuck off tanks when crushed beneath their tracks, and we were specifically not using those rules because we are fanatical purists and only use the 1987 book and refuse to acknowledge the presence of anything later - it's like our Orange Catholic Bible or something. In fact our Rhino was just the generic "Tracked/Wide Wheeled" vehicle from the rulebook because we don't actually know what that Rhino thing means anyway. We all know the game peaked in September 1987 when WD93 was on the newsagent's shelves. Anyway we justified the vehicle's tendency to take damage when running greenskins over as their soft, green, fleshy parts gumming up the tracks.

What is happening here is that the Ork leader then boarded the speeding Rhino (it was travelling at full chat - I didn't see any point in slowing down at any point). I mean who knew there were rules for boarding enemy vehicles in RT? Apparently there are - check page 39 (although in retrospect this might refer to using your own vehicles for bussing/debussing).

At this point the Ork was trying to use his Power Glove (it's like a Power Fist but with a less aggressive name) to smash the crap out of the Rhino. There are no rules for hitting a vehicle in close combat but we let him attack against WS1 because that seemed reasonable and we are adult like that and it was a case of "this is fucking great, lets keep it going".

However lots of ones (hah!) meant that nothing happened and I was able to run over another six FUCKING XENOS before too much green organic matter in the tracks made the Rhino explode.

Meanwhile this happened.

"Shit, did you see that car crash?"

It was like living in Coop Towers 1 all over again - the screech of tyres, the failure to lift, the big crump, the insurance quotes from builders...

As you can see, even the toy truck being used as terrain is retro;

This was being driven by a cowboy with the intention of ramming it into FUCKING XENOS in the hope that it would explode but sadly we ran out of time. Phil was doing a half-player/half-GM act and he had already decided that the Orks would break as soon as they were at half strength and a heroic autodrive chip in a Rhino had basically won the game for Team Emprah.

During the game Phil kept rolling d% without saying why. Apparently this was to see if a human psyker would appear in the Astropath relay station and help out with her HERETICAL WARP POWERS. Shame this never happened because had it happened I would immediately have forgotten about FUCKING XENOS and gone after FUCKING MUTANT.

Because that's what my character would do.

Anyway, four games of Rouge in and it's amazing how many weird little differences from the modern day there are. So without further ado here are 15 things you'd forgotten about Rouge Trader circa 1987.

1 -Apparently "rouge" is not the correct spelling.

2 - There are Sisters of Battle in the rulebook but no more is said about them - they remain Angry Space Nun enigmas.

They shoot Rainbow Warriors. Maybe they are French. That is after all a French fleur-de-lys on her wimple.

3 - There is no concept of the teardrop template. The flamer is a 1.5" radius template. This probably represents historic flamethrowers in a better fashion as traditionally they were often used to "hose" and could therefore be fired on an arc. Furthermore if you hit a target and don't kill it, it continues to take damage in every close combat phase until a 6 is rolled to put the flame out. You can add +1 to this roll for every model adjacent to burning model that tries to put it out.

4 - Plasma guns can't fire until turn 3 at the earliest. It takes two turns to charge after a shot and it is assumed the game starts with them empty.

5 - Flip a coin for first turn. If this were still in the rules GW would sell an "official" Imperial Mega-Groat coin for £20 and twats would buy it to avoid the shame of using a 20p piece or something. Mega-Groat would have skulls on both faces and be made of finecast.

6 - It's all Pre-scatter die. Randomise direction with a d12 (yes, it uses a full complement of polyhedrals) having declared a direction as '12'. Jason attempted to use a scatter die in the above game and he was shouted down very quickly. Serve him bloody right.

7 - You can split squads and send models more than 2" away from others but they require written instructions and the GM controls them. We did this in our first refight of the Battle of the Farm a couple of years ago, handing control of the Space Marine with missile launcher over to a bystander. This gives you the flexibility to take a model with an S-class weapon (can't move and fire) and give him an order like "advance to that ridgeline and give covering fire support to the rest of the squad". Almost like a real infantry firefight.

8 - Empty battlefield (yes, I understand that being able to see the tabletop is an alien concept to modern 40K players). Any model can hide in cover, such as within woods or behind a wall/vehicle etc. You cannot be targeted until enemy are within an number of inches equal to their I score until you fire. You also can't reserve move. This means that if you aren't planning to shoot this turn, get your head down and skulk. Bio scanners and Energy Scanners can be used to detect hidden troops at longer distances.

9 - Overwatch not needed. Charged? Shoot them at -1. None of this snapshot shit.

10 - Following fire. Some weapons like the Heavy Bolter and the Plasma Pistol are F-class. If you wound your target (saved or not) you can pick a target within 4" of the original target (or pick the original target if still standing) and have another shot. And so on until you fail to wound. While that's "cultural" for the Heavy Bolter and Heavy Stubber as they are basically Space Machine Guns it's also true of the Shuriken Catapult which makes Eldar potentially very evil indeed. In fact a lot of weaponry is very evil in this game - I assume that Rouge is showing the influence of Laserburn here which adopted the attitude this if you needlessly exposed yourself to Space Guns then you'd be very dead very quickly. That's why you hide in point 8 above.

11 - Space Marines are glass cannons. T3, their armour is 4+ but most weapons have a save modifier of -1. We are in an era in which SPEHSS MAHREENS were allowed to die and did so with distressing regularity.

12 - There is a rule for three-sided games. I believe that modern GW sell you a whole book for Warhammer to try and handle this.

13 - Robots have their orders written down a number of turns in advance and have a limited fire arc dependent upon their Int. And of course they can go berserk as the result of a critical hit. However you can skip all this by taking a Walker vehicle and fit it with autoaim and autodrive which basically gives you a robot with no drawbacks that is also immune to morale but obviously this would be a cunt's trick. So you won't. Don't look at the above battle report where something similar happened.

14 - Template weapon deviation is the weirdest thing ever. The chance of a template deviating is entirely based upon it's size - a 1/2" radius inch one (small grenades, shotguns) only deviates on a 6, a 2 1/2" radius or bigger on a 2+. This done you roll to hit anybody partially under the template using the usual BS check. What this implies is that you have no control over where the explosion ends up but you can do something about the way the shrapnel bounces. This is completely mental but we stuck with it because basically 1987.

15 - There are at least two creatures that are disguised refugees from Call of Cthulhu (Astral Hound = Hound of Tindalos, Crawler = Cthonian) and probably six that have sneaked in from AD&D with their serial numbers filed off - the Enslaver (Beholder), the Ferro-Beast (Rust Monster), the Ambull (Umber Hulk), the Cthellean Cudbear (Owlbear), the Catachan Devil (Carrion Crawler) and possibly the Psychneuein which might be the Stirge.


And finally this is from Chapter Approved not RT but none-the-less I think the second sentence is the greatest sentence ever written in the history of GW fiction.