Heavy Gear League Journal: Weeks 3 through 6

Heavy-Gear-Logo

The store’s Heavy Gear league is in full force, and unfortunately one slow week followed by my personal life crowding into (paving over?) my blogging time has resulted in me not posting a league update for, what–FOUR weeks?? Ugh. Well without further ado, how things are in the league right now –and just in time for this week’s league night!

Week 3 Feb 22-23

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Peace River Defence Force vs Colonial Expedition Force (Earth)

I was only able to pop in momentarily on this evening; and, due to it now being buried in the depths of time, I’m a little unsure of who showed up to play on that league night. I know it was a slower night for Heavy Gear gaming, but I’m pretty sure three or four people showed up and played a couple of games (even though there had been plenty of other miniatures games being played that night–solely of the historic variety: Victory at Sea, Black Powder and Flames of War). Geoff, Bradford, Adam(S) and Curtis were all gaming that night, but I have no clue who squared off against whom; I also seem to recall some  Saturday Heavy Gear gaming in this week between Bradford and Curtis.

Week 4 March 1-2

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Adam’s fantastic-looking NuCoal squad!

This was the second week in a row that showing up for league night just wasn’t in the books for me. I managed to swing by the store to grab some paperwork; and I did my best to survey the turnout during the five minutes I was in the store. I think the highlight of this week –another slow week for turnout– was that the league had new members! Sean and Justin bought starter army boxes earlier in the week and both showed up this evening. A third person also joined the league, a second Justin (a friend of mine who, like me, almost started playing the game a few years ago but then got distracted by other things and never came back to Heavy Gear). So, while the only established league player showing up on this evening was Adam(S), he had a game against Justin(P) and showed off the mechanics to the other Justin and  Sean. The net result of this week was that the league’s roster grew by thirty percent!

Week 5 March 8-9

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Southern Republic vs NuCoal

For the third week in a row, I was unable to do anything more than pop my head in the store–this time almost literally, as I stopped in to grab something before hitting the highway for a weekend excursion to Edmonton (to make use of my free passes to see the Star Wars Identities exhibit …and drink the nights away with old friends!). So, in the few moments I was in the store I checked out attendance for league night; and it was exceptional: we had seven people come out to play! Both Justins showed up as did Geoff, Curtis, Alem and Jimmy. Aric was also at the store with his Caprice force now fully constructed. By the sounds of it, the gaming was really good this week also, which was a fitting end to the 300-points stage of the league.

Week 6 March 15-16

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Southern Republic versus Eastern Sun Emirates

This was the first week of 600-point armies –a week that I think Curtis, Alem and Bradford have all really been looking forward to (they all have more than 600 points fully painted). For me, family movie night with the Avengers meant I didn’t arrive at the store until it was too late to play, but I came nevertheless to see how the night had shaped up. Bradford, Alem, Adam(S), Sean and Curtis had all played games this night. From what I gathered, Curtis played twice that evening: against Bradford and Sean; Alem and Adam also squared off against each other.

It was a solid night of gaming –and really, I could have played that night too: the store ended up staying open late to allow the Magic the Gathering FNM night to finish properly. However, myself and Justin(P) managed to play a game at the 600-point level on Saturday! It ended up being pretty long: this was the first game I’ve played without someone more knowledgeable at hand, resulting in our 600-point game being fought over a couple of hours. Despite the game length and the undeniable loss on my part, the game against Justin(P)

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League Standings

HG League Week 6 standings

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Changes …Again (sort of)

Because Fridays have been working for league nights so well, and because Saturdays have been a better “standby” Heavy Gear day than Wednesday was, the store changed its March Nightly Gaming schedule and took Heavy Gear off of Wednesday evenings–no need to accidentally have someone drop by on a Wednesday and leave the store thinking that no one plays Heavy GEar …because our community all tends to show up on a different day of the week.

Also, whereas it’s pretty easy for four guys to agree to paint 300 points of Heavy Gear every two weeks; it’s an entirely different matter once triple the amount of people are involved. In the last league update post, I made changes to better accommodate everyone’s schedules: I decided that we’d be gaming at each the point level for a little longer than originally planned. I’ve adjusted things again but this time just the points levels for the last two thresholds in the league’s timeline. Instead of the next points limit increasing by 300 points and the one after by only 100 points; we’ve decided that the next two tiers will increase the points limits by 200 points each time. Our goal still remains 1,000 points of painted miniatures by the end of the league.

Below is the dates and points level for each period; none of the league’s other basic rules have changed.

Weeks 4, 5 & 6 – 600 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 6th to Sunday, March 24th.

Weeks 7, 8 & 9 – 800 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 27th to Sunday, April 14th.

Weeks 10 – 1000 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, April 17th to Sunday, April 28th.

HG wk4b

C.E.F. (Earth) Flails in a game between Curtis and Bradford.

HG wk5b

NuCoal (Adam S.) face off against Southern Republic Gears (Justin P.)

HG Week 4a

One of Curtis’s (many) C.E.F Hovertanks engaged in battle.

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March!

Rather than risk boring everyone with my non-stop Heavy Gear updates, I thought I’d take the time to bore people in other ways –namely by highlighting the in-store gaming for this month!

Regular In-Store Gaming?

Over all my years in hobby retail, I’ve worked at stores that were role-playing games focused, comic-books focused, Warhammer Focused and board-games focused; over all this time, I’ve learned it’s the warm bodies in the store –the ones that aren’t employed there– that makes a store feel like it’s thriving …or at least like it’s not in its death throes. Hence, every games store that isn’t blessed with being a high foot-traffic location tries to have in-store gaming as much as possible just to feel like the place is a busy hub …and also to keep away the oppressive crushing silence that dominates an empty store during business hours.

March events 4 blog

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Gaming This Month

I was first going to give a synopsis of how gaming’s been going and then follow through with a run-down of what games are being played on which days. However, at the starting point of writing that, I realised I being fairly redundant …and then I looked at the games-nights flyer and saw that if I continued on that course I’d be triply redundant. Triple redundancy is a great thing in passenger planes …and the space program. For a blog: not so much. I’ve decided to simply scribe a few thoughts with each day’s gaming (the format of the flyer we hand out and display really limits how much we can say / advertise for each gaming night; some of the gaming days could stand some fleshing out).

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Infinity Mondays
Infinity has really surprised me: I’m of the view that any game where the one of the first things players say about it is “and you’ll never need more than a dozen models” is a game that is likely living on borrowed time. Infinity sure seems to be bucking that trend! My hobby plate is more than a little full, so I’ve side-stepped this sci-fi skirmish game, but it sure seems to scratch enough itches that the players who buy multiple factions are more the norm than the exception. For an upstart game, our nights are well attended; we do get some slow nights, but we get some quite busy ones too.

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Tuesday’s Warhammer Fantasy Battles
Warhammer nights for us are up and down. That said, we have a few regulars, one of which has been posting battle reports on Youtube regularly (quite a few of them done at Imaginary Wars too!). What’s interesting is that on more than a couple of occasions, we’ve some guys (relatively) new to Warhammer 40,000 show up on Tuesday evenings –mainly because their schedules can’t accommodate Thursday or Sunday gaming. Say what you will about Games Workshop, but the pervasiveness of 40k in the gaming world easily rivals Coca-Cola’s in the world abroad.

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Wednesday: Canadian Minis Night becomes Strange Aeons & Paint Club Night
With the Heavy Gear slow-grow league in full force …and being regularly attended on Fridays and (some) Saturdays, I felt having a Heavy Gear night in the middle of the week was risking players showing up to play on several days during the week without ever actually meeting other players.

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So for now, gaming on Wednesdays will focus specifically on Strange Aeons. As has become tradition, Uncle Mike (the creator of Strange Aeons) shows up at the store on the first Wednesday of each month to run introductory games, show off new rules etc; and though our Wednesdays are attended by a smaller crowd, our Strange Aeons players show up every week …almost religiously. They are one of the store’s most solid groups, and anyone hoping to get into this more casual skirmish game (it’s almost a mash-up of X-Files, Call of  Cthulhu and Mordheim) could do no better than to come down to the store on Wednesdays.
(In other Strange Aeons news, it should be pointed out that a new scenario was just released for free on the Strange Aeons website!)

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Warhammer 40,000 OWNS Thursday Evenings
Once, we had this one disastrously slow Thursday evening (I think there was a blizzard or something to that effect) and only six people showed up to play 40k.  Not all nights are crazy-busy, but Thursday is one of the best nights of the week for guaranteeing players an opponent.

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Eclectic Fridays: More than FNM!
Where Thursdays are dominated by 40k, Fridays usually sees double the amount of players engaged in a broad assortment of different games. The tent-pole games are really Magic the Gathering’s Friday Night Magic and Flames of War, but we’ve added Heavy Gear to the repertoire (which is seeing success; I think we have 12 people active in the league right now!). That said, Friday Nights at Imaginary Wars have been no strangers most recently to Victory at Sea and previously Dystopian Wars, Black Powder and Firestorm Armada.

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Saturdays: Open Gaming and Events
Saturdays remain the domain of open, unscheduled gaming and special events. We’ve run more than a couple very successful tournaments on Saturdays; non-tournament events tend to fall on Saturdays as well and they’ve all been well received. I’ve been pondering making Saturdays our board game day…

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Sunday: 40k in the Afternoon
Proving that Warhammer 40,000 is the game ’round these parts, we have it running on Sundays as well –though on Sundays we also tend to see one or more Firestorm Armada games hit the tables as well. For me, Firestorm Armada scratches the itch that GW’s Battlefleet Gothic stopped being able to take care of years ago. Though games regularly take longer than standard 40k games, the rules are elegant enough that players rarely notice the time going by. Easy to learn, difficult to master, great game play and awesome models: all reasons to get into the game!

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Paint Club?
Paint club is our effort to provide space (and supplies) for players to meet up and paint their models. This is all done under the auspice that when people do creative work in concert with others, their productivity flourishes. Sometimes that productivity is evidenced by how much work is done, other times it’s in skills learned or ideas that would never have been struck  upon had others not been around to help germinate the initial thoughts and ideas.

Anyways, this is what I experienced in university …and (oddly enough) while working at Games Workshop. In fact, ask any ex-Red shirt who worked for GW –back when the Hobby Centres painted store armies– about how their painting improved during their tenure with the company. This is my hope with our painting club night (right now being directed towards Wednesday evenings).

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So there you have it:
that’s what a week of gaming at Imaginary Wars tends to look like. In the coming days, I’m hoping to do an update about our Heavy Gear Slow-Grow League, as well as announce some exciting events on the horizon for the store concerning Flames of War, Firestorm Armada …and possibly Warhammer 40,000 (and maybe Heavy Gear also).

Also, Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies: the store hits its first anniversary next month, and we’re going to do something special for that!

March’s White Dwarf Reviewed

This would be Issue #398 if White Dwarf was still being numbered,

…and this issue –unlike the last two– arrived right on time!

As is the new reality with the White Dwarf, the figures shown on the cover denote what the current month’s issue focuses on. This month, it’s demons Daemons.

This issue is the second in a row for “the new ‘Dwarf” to come poly bagged despite there being no “extras” included with the issue.

White Dwarf 2013 March Front Cover

WHITE DWARF: MARCH 2013

Inside CoverThe White Dwarf Team.

Page 1: Opening Salvo: Jes Bickham’s editorial. Double-dip month! Daemons for 40k and for Fantasy! …plus they have some birthday celebration ideas in mind for next month’s issue –perhaps something extra to include with the magazine, thereby warranting poly bagging the future issue?

Pgs 2-3: Table of Contents:  Break down of this month’s issue.

Pgs 4-5: New Releases:  “Beyond the material realm, the Dark Gods plot…”

Pgs 6-7: New Releases:  Epic gate-fold pages shows off a giant Daemons army while the “magazine side” talks about the Plague Drones of Nurgle.

Pgs 8-10: New Releases:  The Burning Chariot of Tzeentch. Cool enough model….but probably not cool enough for it to sell.

Page 11: New Releases:  The new Herald of Tzeentch (on a chariot) makes me think it’s just a set of alternate pieces inside the Burning Chariot kit.
(…I really should have read this issue before going through with this page-by-page breakdown; I then wouldn’t wonder about such trivial matters.)

Pgs 12-13: New Releases:  The Blood Throne of Khorne comes ridden by a (new) herald. Okay, this one is totally an alternate build from the new Daemons of Khorne kit, which is:

Pgs 14-15: New Releases:  The Skull Cannon of Khorne. Two Bloodletters stand atop a Khorne-plywood sheet , manning their toothy version of a pirate ship deck gun, all done while cruising around on an awesome manga-motorcycle that’s driving backwards. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

Pgs 16-17: New Releases:  The new FINECAST(TM) Herald of Nurgle. After seeing the Heralds of Khorne and Tzeentch, it looks like Nurgle players are getting the short end of the stick with this release. Good.

Pgs 18-19: New Releases:  A second Herald model for Khorne! Does this mean the Khorne daemon rules are so spectacular that GW projects Khorne stocks going up enough that model sales will follow?

Page 20: New Releases:  The new Herald of Slaanesh. This looks to be an awesome plastic kit ….unless it’s in fact a FINECAST(TM) model, in which case this is GW completely NOT making a model that embraces the resin medium’s advantages over the plastic and metal mediums.

Page 21: New Releases:  Battleforce/Battalion box, the Battle Magic and Psychic Power decks for Daemons in Fantasy and 40k. Nothing to read here; move along, move along.

Pgs 22-27: New Releases:  The cover paintings to the Daemons Warhammer Army book and the 40k Codex, followed by two pages dedicated first to the fantasy book and then again to the 40k book.

Pgs 28-29: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Dwarf Warriors of Erebor. These are nowhere near as awesome as the Dwarf Grim Hammers from last month. I wish I could be more excited about the Hobbit range, but GW seems set on making the line bland and pricey: $40 for 12 single-piece plastic models? No thank you. Games Workshop, you can charge me the $44 for ten Space marines because I can build/pose and equip them as I see fit (and with bitz left over!); these Dwarves offer me none of that. I sometimes feel like GW is running with the Hobbit license just so that no other company can.

Pgs 30-31: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Warriors of Dale. I honestly don’t remember seeing any of these guys in the first Hobbit movie, but okay. These models I can at least respect, despite their price point and dollars-per-miniature ratio being the same as the Erebor Warriors kit. Plus I could use these for both player characters and NPCs in The One Ring role-playing game. (GW:  please take note of how Cubicle 7 properly handles a license for Lord of the Rings!)

Page 32: New Releases:  The Hobbit:  Dwarf Grim Hammer Captain. He doesn’t look as cool as the regular rank-and-file Grim Hammers …and, being made in FINECAST(TM), he also clocks in at half the price of the whole box of Grim Hammers. For one middle-of-the-road model. I say skip this one.

Page 33: New Releases:  The Hobbit: The Dwarf lord, Thror. Despite being set at the FINECAST(TM) price point of $25 for this single model, at least it’s cool enough to tempt me. He really is cool.

Page 34: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Lindir of Rivendell. I really wish they hadn’t shown me the close-up of the model’s face –never since Shannon Doherty have eyes been so crookedly set on a face (and it’s only rubbing salt into the wound with GW’s caption of “”see the intricate details sculpted onto his face.”)

Page 35: New Releases:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hardcover rules manual. WTF??? THIS IS NOT NEW! I suspect that the sales of this are SO infernally dismal, that Games Workshop has been left wondering if they forgot to advertise its availability back when it came out before Christmas. No, GW, you didn’t forget to mention the existence of this rules manual; it’s just that people know when they’re getting hosed.
40k players take note!! Next time you’re going to grouse on about what a raw deal the 40k rulebook is at $90 for 432 full-colour pages; THIS is what getting hosed is: The Hobbit’s rulebook is $100 for 288 (full-colour) pages. But GW can’t figure out why it’s not selling, so they list it as a new release …again.

Pgs 36-37: New Releases:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Escape from Goblin Town starter box. OR PERHAPS the game hasn’t come out yet! OR PERHAPS I’ve gone back in time and am reliving the world as it was three months ago. …Or more realistically, the writing’s on the wall, and we have front-row seats to see just how well the Hobbit game is performing for Games Workshop. Despite my absolute love for all things genuinely Tolkien, and my persistent desire to want to like GW’s Hobbit range, I can’t.

Pgs 38-40: New Releases:  Black Library:  Death of Antagonis,  a novel about one of the 13th (“Cursed”) founding’s chapters, the Black Dragons. Remember back when White Dwarf published rules to make your very own game-legal Cursed Founding chapter with its own special traits / abilities? Probably not. But I digress; hot on the heels of the Path of the Renegade novel comes Path of the Incubus written by none other than Andy Chambers! …who always struck me as a rules writer, not a prose writer. Also out this month: keeping with the Daemons’ double-dipping theme in this month’s magazine, The Masque of Vyle is a second Eldar novel (okay–it’s a novella) out in March. Lastly, for Warhammer, comes Van Hortsmann and has the tag line “Egrimm van Horstmann is the most promising wizard the College of Light has ever seen, but he harbours a terrible secret.” I’m betting it’s that “Freaky Friday” mirror of his. Just sayin.

Page 41: New Releases: Digital Products:  Buy the White Dwarf issue you’re currently reading, the Daemons codex / Army Book –heck, even the 40k Psychic Powers are all available in digital format!

Pgs 42-43: New Releases: Forge World:  More Warhammer 30k models: Terminators for the Death Guard and the Sons of Horus that both look like space marines in Mk VII armour that have let themselves go a little bit. Rounding out the releases is the Vulkite Caliver upgrade pack….whatever those are.

Pgs 44-45: New Releases:  Licensed Games:  And by licensed, they mean iPad games. Warhammer Quest comes out in March for the iPad! Also coming down the tubes is the next battle pack for Warhammer Invasion by Fantasy Flight Games.

Pgs 46-47: New Releases Summary:  Full listing of this month’s extensive releases, complete with prices.

Pgs 48-49: Advert: GW Online Store. Surely, after the whole “we own every use of the words Space Marine” debacle, ‘Workshop has proved they firmly believe there’s no such a thing as bad P.R.
…Which makes me wonder why they don’t mention in this advertisement that Games Workshop Online carries items (such as the Death From the Skies supplement) that aren’t available from GW Hobby Centre Retail stores –and they won’t let independent stores order or carry.

Pgs 50-55: Army of the Month: Dave Roberts’ Lamenters Space Marine army. One day I will chart how many Marine armies (versus anything NON marine) get featured here.

Pgs 56-57: Standard Bearer:  Jervis tackles how to solve perplexing rules questions. He admits that designers don’t always know how their games will always play out …and then goes on about how normal and acceptable and just generally how good it is to just rely on a random dice roll to solve those tricksy rules dilemmas.
…Which makes me wonder if this solution hasn’t also been applied to other facets of Games Workshop’s business.

“Okay, on a 4+ we spend a lot of time crafting good rules that do proper justice to Tolkien’s works, then we really push the technology and see of what we can accomplish in the smaller 25mm scale with plastics and Finecast; on a 1 to 3 we’ll just shill the same old thing but mark the price up another 15-50% over the last edition’s products and act like it’s always been that way. [rolls] Hmmm , I rolled a 2; right, shill it with an inflated margin and damn the consequences, it is!” **

**I have no proof this conversation ever actually took place in a GW executive meeting.

Pgs 58-73: Battle Report – 40k:  Daemons of Chaos piloted by Adam Troke take issue with Matt Hutson’s Imperial Fists. I think I’m more concerned with how Daemons do when up against another sixth edition (or even a late-fifth edition) codex. But what I’m REALLY curious about is how stacked the odds are against the Daemons when they rook up against Grey Knights. However, this battle report tackles neither of those issues and instead goes after the vanilla marines. The Imperial Fists lose their battle as a result. In hindsight, I’m finding that I kind of wish they’d list the points values of the armies in the battle reports. 

Pgs 74-77: Blanchitsu:  John Blanche shows off some models that a fan sent him. The models look like Mr. Blanche himself did them –and the accompanying portraits of each model in the Inquisitor warband look even more like paintings done by John Blanche. I wonder: when John Blanche talks about playing games with the inquisitor warbands he paints up (or in this case gets sent by a fan), what game is he playing? The old Inquisitor game? I’m truly curious.

Pgs 78-79: Hall of Fame:  Urien Rakarth. I would argue that inducting models barely three years old into the “Hall of Fame” really makes the hall of fame feel not all that prestigious.

Pgs 80-95: Parade GroundUK Golden Demon, 2012 …part 3:  Despite the quality of the entries, having a third installment of Golden Daemons models makes me suspect that the magazine in general is starved for good content ideas. I’ll say nothing else negative here as the entries are truly inspiring (all except the Space Wolves ones…just because, well, Space Wolves).  The Nurglish Ettin on page 95 is absolutely breathtaking.

Pgs 96-101: Kit Bash:  The “secret ingredient” this month is Warhammer 40,000 Ork Fighta Bommers. And every model is awesome! I should go on at length about these, but the words will do the models no justice.

Pgs 102-109: Battleground:  Coverage of the best entries from the 2012 Armies on Parade competition at the UK Games Day …again. All four are superb. Three of the four are mostly yellow. A repeat of last month’s topic again leaves me thinking the ‘Dwarfers are stretching one article across multiple months in order to bide time. Only one Marine is showcased here, and it’s truly good to see some Tau!

Pgs 110-117: Paint Splatter:  How to go about painting up all your Daemons stuff. Warriors of Dale are then touched upon, before this segment then moves on to painting using a GW spray gun, featuring Matt Hutson’s yellow Imperial Fists.

Pgs 118-119: Jeremy Vetock:  A list of things Jeremy Vetock doesn’t like. Overall the article is pretty innocuous, in all senses of the word. I’m kinda’ holding out for Jeremy to hit his stride with this column. I mean, if Jervis brings game design (if you will) to the table, and John Blanche brings art design, what niche can Mr. Vetock fill? I know I’d like to see less “opinion of the minute” columns from him and maybe more about the various campaigns/leagues he’s run over the years –heck even if his column tackled designing satisfying campaigns every now and again, that would be pretty nice.

Page 120: Advert: “Follow us on Facebook….and Twitter!”

Pgs 121-124: Advert:  Games Workshop Hobby Centres! Also: GW Hobby Centre “birthday” celebrations & upcoming giant games at the Memphis battle bunker.

Page 125: Advert:  GW advertises that their products are carried by independent stores, and encourages YOU to encourage your local store to carry GW products.

Pgs 126-135: Advert:  Listings of GW Hobby Centres (worldwide) and GW Independent Stockists (North America).

Page 136: Advert:  White Dwarf suggests you consider having your White Dwarf magazines mailed to you every month. 

Pgs 137-151: This Month In…

-White Dwarf:  Details about “The Hobby Challenge” laid down by Matt Hutson: to paint up a new force and battle with it before next month’s White Dwarf. By the sounds of it a “force” is roughly a battleforce-box amount of models (more or less). All three games systems will be represented.

-The Design Studio:  John Blanche talks about the history of the chaos powers –from a codex point of view. Aly Morrison, Colin Grayson, Dave Thomas and Mike Anderson all talk a little about the daemons models they’ve sculpted for this month’s releases. Then John Michelbach talks about the map he made detailing the realm of chaos itself.

-Around the Studio:  Snapshots of some projects belonging to non-White Dwarf studio staff. The Nurgle-themed Chaos Marine army is the one that truly stands out.

-Forge World:  Shots of more 30k models, the Minotaurs chapter Sternguard, two half-finished orc character models and another new tile for the Realm of Battle board, this time Fantasy themed.

-Black Library:  Ben Counter talks about his new novel, Van Hortsmann.  Also snapshots of models inspired by some Black Library releases, all of them space marines.

Page 152: Parting Shot:  If last month’s parting shot picture of the Necron flyer could be seen as heralding the Death From the Skies 40k supplement, I really do wonder what a picture of Space Wolves on their Thunder Cats Cav fighting a Tyranid could possibly portent. Perhaps Workshop has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and is about to release a new Tyranid codex? Probably not.  Still….

Inside Back Cover: March Events Calendar:  I very much enjoy how this calendar also includes February 23rd –when the advance orders for all the early March releases first go up on GW’s website. Just seems kind of redundant to me.

Thoughts on the Issue

I don’t know what’s up with this issue. I think, for the most part,  I liked last month’s issue (especially the irony of Jervis Johnson speaking against the homogenisation of the hobby while working side-by-side those whose goal is to homogenise the Warhammer hobby!); and yet, this month’s ‘Dwarf has left me feeling, to be blunt, a bit pissed.


 

STREET BEEF

Beef #1: For the second month in a row, this issue came poly bagged –despite the utter lack of anything extra being included with the magazine to make poly bagging it a necessity.

Beef #2: The worrying possibility that I mentioned in last month’s Street Beef, that the White Dwarf can’t keep up the creativity momentum established in the new format’s first few books, sure looks like it’s coming closer to being actualised: not only is there no bonus content included with the magazine but 15% of this month’s book (the page count of the Golden Demon entries and the Armies on Parade spotlight) are, creativity-wise, the exact same as last month’s issue

Then there’s what has transpired in the last month: Games Workshop deciding that the term Space Marine has never existed prior to 1989 and the advent of Rogue Trader (I tell you, it’s a good thing Tolkien has such good, long-serving lawyers…otherwise Amazon might be considering yanking Tolkien’s books too!). BUT, too many people have written about this already, so I’m not going to say much more.

Lastly, there’s the GW’s handling of The Hobbit. I may not be the biggest Tolkien nerd, but I am a huge fan. I may not own everything ever made for gaming in Middle Earth, but I own more than my fair share: I’m closing in on having a complete collection of Iron Crown’s Middle Earth Role Playing system, I have everything except the starter box for Decipher’s Lord of the Rings RPG (based off the movies) and have everything so far for Cubicle 7’s The One Ring RPG. I also own several different board games based off of Tolkien’s books as well as the co-op Living Card Game being made by Fantasy Flight Games. As  far as GW’s products go, I didn’t bother with The Battle of Five Armies (I owned Warmaster already), but I’ve avidly collected GW’s Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and have actively played it for years; I’ve made my own campaign system for their Battle Companies free expansion For LotR SBG, and I still think that GW’s War of the Ring game is one of the best miniatures games GW has put out (it is not without its flaws, but it remains one of the more satisfying games to play that GW has made).

So when I start saying only bad things about GW’s The Hobbit game, it’s not because I’m a hater. And yet I was barely able to say one good thing about the Hobbit new releases in this issue. As a fan, I feel completely bent over the barrel by the stranglehold GW has on this game. The price-point of all the models is noticeably higher than the GW products many already consider “already too expensive;” the decent level of detail the models do possess is betrayed by their simplistic design (single cast, not multiple components and options that promote customisation) –which is only worsened by the fact that the quantity-of-product versus price-point ratio feels worse than anything else Games Workshop makes.

So I guess that boils down to my Beef really is with this issue: that White Dwarf has me actively disliking GW’s  Hobbit releases.
Me.
The guy who defends The Hobbit movies being done as a trilogy; the guy who still points out that the sixth edition of 40k and the eighth edition of Warhammer Fantasy both have the War of the Ring game to thank for having their mechanics reinvigorated; the guy who still really wants to play more games of GW’s War of the Ring; the guy who’s planning on getting back into playing/running/GMing a role-playing game (thanks  to The One Ring rpg) …or at the very least, to play more Middle Earth Quest and the Lord of the Rings living card game. Of all the hobbies I have been passionate about since my mid-teen years, it’s the Lord of the Rings I’ve liked the longest. It’s been one of my hobby mainstays for over twenty years now –I mean, I barely touch video games at all, and yet I’ve got a lifetime membership for Lord of the Rings Online.

And here’s White Dwarf, on Games Workshop’s behest, convincing me to hate it.

Heavy Gear League Journal: Week 2

Heavy-Gear-Logo

Week two of our Heavy Gear “Slow-Grow” league  has now gone by, and here is how the week behind us looked.

But First…Week One Late Additions

What I wasn’t expecting to happen last week did: mere hours after posting the Week One results on Sunday morning, some league members showed up and played some more games. Technically they count as “Week One” seeing as how the games were played on the weekend (I’ve decided each league “Week” begins on our regular Heavy Gear evening: Wednesday and continues on Friday through to Sunday …though Sundays are tricky as that’s one of our regular Warhammer 40,000 days). Anyway, because  Sundays aren’t an “official” league day, the few guys who showed for a few games didn’t get any raffle tickets but did earn league points for playing some more 300-point games (as was detailed in the post with the league’s basic rules).

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Week Two Overview

Friday’s league night saw us with six people playing –a drop from the first week; mind you, the number of people who showed up on Week One’s Friday night had a certain amount of guys who came to see what the turn out was, not so much to play games. This week’s number of players also took a small hit due to a couple of the league’s players showing up to play Flames of War as part of someone’s birthday celebrations. (But hey, if my store is a component to someone’s birthday festivities, I’m certainly not going to complain!) But all in all, it was a good second week.

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What also made it good was that, for the second week in a row, my wife was exceptionally understanding and gave me the green light to come to the store and game on a Friday night. To be clear, by mentioning this point, I’m NOT being passive-aggressive towards my wife about my “hobby time”; my wife works all day on Fridays and doesn’t get home until close to 6:00 –exactly the same time I try to be at the store in order to get a game or two in. So, yeah, anytime she agrees to take over my childcare obligations after her long day of work so I can go play with toy soldiers, I’m pretty extra appreciative.

I arrived at the store to see a North versus Black Talons game in progress, a game (I presume) finished up and a player waiting for an opponent to play against. And all this on top of a decent-sized Flames of War game going on and about twenty people at the store for Friday Night Magic. I think this is what made the gaming conventions of the past so cool: a room filled with bunch of like-minded people playing a variety of games (not just a room filled with everyone playing the same game), exposing everyone present to a myriad assortment of games and activities they might never have looked into on their own.

I think I remember hearing that Alem’s Northern army, in a rematch from last week, defeated Jimmy’s Black Talon force (if I’m wrong about that, I’m sure I’ll hear about it in pretty short order!); I played against Aric, who, still waiting for arrival of the Caprician models the store ordered for him a week ago, borrowed some Southern Gears and had his very first game of Heavy Gear. With Curtis’s help, he gave a pretty good showing against my Southern force; alas, my quantity defeated his quality in this battle (he fielded an improved-skill  Strike Cadre of veterans against my force of a standard-skill Strike Cadre and Sagittarius strider). By the sounds of it, Geoff’s Northern force also eked out a victory against Curtis’s Earth invasions force, making it overall a good night to hail from the North.

WEEK 2 STANDINGS

WEEK 2 STANDINGS

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League Basics…Amended

The response to the league has been more than a little favourable; we’ve even had some people decide to join the league from seeing the first night’s games in progress! Because of this (and because these new players are starting armies without the benefit of getting a head start on them before the “start” of the league), the newer league players are behind the eight ball to get small games in to better understand the rules before the army sizes grow –and shipping delays from Dream Pod 9 has exacerbated this: some players are still hoping to get their first 300 points assembled before the league’s battle level is increase is set to 600 points. This has led me to alter some of the league’s rules a little.

Despite some alterations, I don’t want to change the league’s basic tenets as I’m a huge fan of the goals its’ striving for:

1 – COMPLETE ARMIES
Each participant would have a fully painted, tournament-sized army Heavy Gear force of 1,000 points by the end of the league.

2 – RULE LITERACY
Each participant would know the game’s rules so that games would move along fairly fluidly IE: they would be well above having just a basic grasp of the rules and would be ready to play in a tournament environment (timed games etc).
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On the Dream Pod 9  forum talking about our league, there were suggestions that we shouldn’t require league games to be played with painted models. Though I’m altering some of the league’s framework, I don’t want to alter too much: which with gamers’ tendencies being what they are, can only be realistically accomplished if everyone to have fully painted forces by league’s end, and I think the only route to that goal is through requiring all games to be played with fully painted models (again, for clarification: “fully painted” being defined as 3 colours, no primer showing and bases textured). I think the only hiccups we’re experiencing are due to a few people (myself included) joining late –which is good!

To keep the painting schedule brisk enough while avoiding a break-neck pace, the points values for battles each week have been changed.

Below is our new league schedule:

300 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, Feb. 6th to Sunday, March 3rd.

600 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 6th to Sunday, March 24th.

900 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 27th to Sunday, April 14th.

1000 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, April 17th to Sunday, April 28th.

Starting February 8th, the size of armies playing in the league will start at 300 points. Every THREE weeks, the points values of players’ armies will increase by 300 points –with the exception being the final stage of 1,000-point forces will go to the first weekend of May rather than for a full three weeks.

This new schedule extends the league’s length by one month –hopefully that isn’t too long, as leagues and campaigns that overextend themselves risk never running their full course to completion.

Heavy Gear League Journal: Week 1

Heavy-Gear-Logo

We just had our weekend of the store’s Heavy Gear “Slow-Grow” league, and response was phenomenal!

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Week One Overview

his past Friday (2013-02-08) was the first evening for the league, and we had NINE people show up! For the sake of transparency, it should be mentioned that two of the nine who showed up didn’t play but instead just watched some games. I’m also counting myself in that total –which is totally legit as I came to the store on my evening off and actually got a game in as well! (But I think the game I got in might be better fare for a post on its own …possibly part of a “work in progress” report?)

Sure, nine players sounds pretty small potatoes, but in a store that feels absolutely packed when there’s a dozen people playing  miniatures games in the store, nine people is pretty awesome –especially for a smaller game like Heavy Gear.

hg league night

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The Challenges Facing A Gaming League

The biggest challenge when running leagues is continued attendance: so many league and campaigns peter out just before or just after hitting their stride. More accurately, the challenge given the organiser lies in the balancing act of ensuring player participation while simultaneously not cultivating a culture that instills in players the feeling that winning is all that matters (unless of course the league’s goal is all about finding out which player is the toughest and meanest at playing with their action figures; if that’s the case, then the challenge is simply keeping everyone playing).

I’ve seen it time and time again throughout the years working with GW’s games: people who aren’t new to a system play in these start-up leagues alongside people who are new to the system; the established players make lists and play their games with a very much “business as usual” attitude …which tend to utterly destroy the new players’ armies and ultimately punish them for taking perceived sub-optimal troops in their lists and for making mistakes during games.

I’m a firm believer that the essence of games –and ALL play in general– is providing a safe place where one can make mistakes; this is where “fun” comes in: essentially, you’re not made to feel bad if something you attempt doesn’t play out as optimally as you hoped. That line of thought is a little idealistic, I know –of course to some people, I’m completely out to lunch and quite beyond being a simple idealist in thinking that games are strictly for fun.

Games are NOT Fun

Going back to the challenges faced by leagues, I have it in my head that if new players are forced to game in a way they don’t like playing, their desire to continue showing up for league play will diminish as the league goes on. I’ve seen it where the hardcore gamers inadvertently chase away all the “scrubs” just because the new players didn’t think being outclassed by their experienced opponents and getting utterly defeated week after week after week was very “fun.”

So that’s what I think I’m up against: I need the league to be engaging enough for players to keep coming back every week while also ensuring the league isn’t effectively telling the players that “only winning matters” …which is why I think granting points and recording official standings for winning or losing games is one of the worst ways to keep (most) new players involved in a league for its duration.

League Basics

A lot of this was already posted on the store’s Facebook page, the Calgary Gamers Forum and the Calgary REGIMENT‘s discussion forum back in January, but I’m including it here for the sake of completeness and having all the information in one spot. And really, with this league, I’m just running with a ball that’s already in play: the league was actually thought up and initiated by a few players who were just getting into Heavy Gear and thought that a “painted models only” league would be a great way to accomplish two goals by its end date:

1 – COMPLETE ARMIES
Each participant would have a fully painted, tournament-sized army Heavy Gear force of 1,000 points by the end of the league (March, 2013).

2 – RULE LITERACY
Each participant would know the game’s rules so that games would move along fairly fluidly IE: they would be well above having just a basic grasp of the rules and would be ready to play in a tournament environment (timed games etc).
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I decided that the Heavy Gear League days should be both Fridays and Saturdays, with the hopes of better accommodating people’s’ schedules; and instead of armies increasing in size weekly, we agreed that starting with essentially one-squad armies and increasing the army size by roughly one squad every two weeks would set a brisk enough –yet relaxed enough– pace for players to paint up their models.

As was mentioned above, to ensure that everyone has tournament-sized armies that are fully painted by the end of the league, ALL league games must be played with fully painted and based models. (And for our purposes, fully painted means three colours and no primer showing; model bases must be textured. In the case of sculpted resin bases,  those bases must be be fully painted.)

Points Values

Starting February 8th, the size of armies playing in the league will start at 300 points. Every two weeks, the points values of players’ armies will increase as seen below:

300 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Feb. 8th to Saturday, Feb. 16th.

600 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Feb. 22nd to Saturday, Mar. 2nd.

900 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Mar. 8th to Saturday, Mar. 16th.

1000 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Mar. 22nd to Saturday, Mar. 30th.

Because the league has stricter-than normal parameters, I thought it would be appropriate to have prizes for those who commit to the Heavy Gear League. The prizes will be supplied by Imaginary Wars (thereby making it so there’s no entry fees involved with being in the league) and will be awarded for players’ participation.

There will be no tracking of player victories or awarding league standings based on army performance.

Every time players game on a league day (and of the appropriate points level for that week), they’ll earn a raffle ticket; at the end of March, the store will raffle off a few cool items as a way of thanking those who participated.

As a second level of prize, the store will give a points bonus for the store’s “Imaginary Dollars” points reward program to the top three players who play the most games during the league. (The total pool of points to be awarded will be determined by how many people are active in the league.) Obviously, to track who plays the most, we’ll need to have league standings –which, yes, I generally eschew, but these standings will be based strictly on the number of games people play each week.

As I saw with the last escalation league the store ran (for Warhammer 40,000), there were just over double the amount of small games played in the early weeks than there were larger games in the final weeks. I fully expect a similar dynamic to play out in this league –and it makes sense: smaller-sized armies means shorter games …means more games get played. In later stages, larger armies …longer games …fewer games get played. This dynamic works directly against fixing the challenge of keeping players involved through to the end. I mean, after several weeks of constant gaming, players need only show up once or twice just to spend that evening watching other players’ long games and unable to play their own game before deciding there’s little point in making the effort to show up.

To (hopefully) combat that, we’ll be doing two things:

1) players can play Heavy Gear on any day that they like (providing there’s a table free to play on, of course) –they’ll also likely have to arrange that game with another player on a non-league day rather than simply show up unannounced and expecting to get a game in.
2) players will be awarded more points per game as the size of the armies grows: this makes it so that the people who play many games early on will not have an unfair advantage against those who only play a game or two each week, the whole length of the league.

It should be noted that League Standing points will only be awarded for each full, four-turn game played at Imaginary Wars (so at home games totally don’t count) and they will only be awarded for games played at that week’s appropriate points level. Points will be awarded according to the points limit set for each period as such:

300 pt. Forces – 1 League Standing point per game played.

600 pt. Forces – 1.5 League Standing points per game played.

900 pt. Forces – 2 League Standing points per game played.

1000 pt. Forces – 2.5 League Standing points per game played.

With the first half of the first 300-point week now done, here’s how the League currently looks. Yeah, the standings look a tad meager right now; but these standings reflect only one night’s gaming so far; though it was a BUSY Friday night of gaming, there was plenty of room for players to get games in on Saturday. I think if our pool of players come down to the store across both days, a good deal of players will stand to earn more league points.

WEEK 1 STANDINGS

WEEK 1 STANDINGS

Because I was busy helping out the store on a busy night and then later on, getting in a game of my own with Heavy Gear, I really didn’t get many pictures of the League’s first night. However, I did get one photo from Friday night –and another photo from a game being played the next day (though only two people showed up for the League’s first Saturday of gaming).

Curtis with his CEF (Earth) force facing off against Alem's Northern Gears.

Curtis with his CEF (Earth) force facing off against Alem’s Northern Gears.

A close up of Bradford's Peace River Defence Force as they run up against (and over) Curtis's Earth army.

A close up of Bradford’s Peace River Defence Force as they run up against (and over) Curtis’s Earth army.

February’s White Dwarf Reviewed

This would be Issue #397 if White Dwarf was still being numbered,

…and this issue was late. I’m writing this review three days after it arrived at the store…with the store’s supply of the issue arriving two days after the local Games Workshop received their copies. Sigh.

As is evidenced by the models on the front cover, this issue focuses on the new Warriors of Chaos release(s) due out the first Saturday of February…today–or rather, yesterday (seeing how I’m posting this on Sunday, February 3rd).

Of note: this issue came poly bagged even though there are no “extras” included in this month’s issue.

White Dwarf Feb 2013

WHITE DWARF: FEBRUARY 2013

Inside CoverThe White Dwarf Team.

Page 1: Opening Salvo: Jes Bickham’s editorial. he talks about the Warriors of Chaos, this month’s battle report and mentions there’s more Golden Demon models in this month’s issue.

Pgs 2-3: Table of Contents:  No surprises: a listing of the articles and what-not in this month’s issue.

Pgs 4-5: New Releases:  For the glory of the Dark Gods, the Warriors of Chaos come from the cursed north in search of bloodshed and exaltation…

Pgs 6-7: New Releases:  Dual gate folds showcasing the Slaughterbrute and Mutalith Vortex Beast versions of the newest super-sized kit for Warhammer.

Pgs 8-11: New Releases:  Dragon  Ogres. Plenty of photos showing how stiffly posed the front legs on all the sculpts are capable of looking.

Pgs 12-15: New Releases:  The new, ALL PLASTIC Chaos chariot. Also shown is the Gorebeast version of the chariot….which I kind of really like.

Pgs 16-17: New Releases:  Chaos Foresaken models shown off.

Pgs 18-19: New Releases:  The Warriors of Chaos ALL PLASTIC Lord. At first I didn’t care for this model, and then I found out he wasn’t a FINECAST(TM) model but one with the same pedigree and price as GW’s other awesome plastic heroes (the Cairn Wraith etc). For a plastic model at the price point he is, this guy is pretty awesome!

Pgs 20-21: New Releases:  He’s hellishly expensive. He’s a FINECAST(TM) model. And yet Throgg is just super cool.

Pgs 22-23: New Releases: Vilitch the Curseling. Cool model and awesome paint job–though I’m a little unsure of that giant spike coming from its shoulder.

Pgs 24-28: New Releases:  Warriors of Chaos Warhammer Armies book, in its newest iteration and given the same treatment as all other new army books and codices: full colour and hardcover.

Pgs 28-29: New Releases:  Battle Magic deck for Warriors of Chaos and the brand-new …Chimera? I thought the Chimera was a new release back when Storm of Magic was new. Mayhaps they’ve made its rules significantly better, thus earning it a second chance to step up to the plate?

Pgs 30-31: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Knights of Rivendell. I think these models are pretty awesome…even though they ARE being released about ten years too late. Also, I THOUGHT THESE ELF-KNIGHTS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE TOUGH; WHY WOULD AN ELF PLAYER WANT DEAD ELF MODELS INCLUDED IN THE BOX SET HE’S BUYING???

Pgs 32-33: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Grim Hammers. Some of the coolest dwarf models I’ve seen GW put out. Mind you, they had an art team from a movie studio design the models for them, so I should hope so. 

Page 34: New Releases:  Elrond on foot and mounted. Cool model in two poses that clocks in at almost the same price as a tank in 40k? It’s like GW is advertising just how good the cocaine is at their executive meetings.

Page 35: New Releases:  Radagast the Brown in FINECAST(TM). I have the plastic version that came with The Hobbit starter box (the store still has two Ltd. Edition starters on its shelves). I’ll take a pass: one hobo wizard is enough for my collection right now.

Page 36: New Releases:  Yazneg on foot and mounted. Cool model in two poses that clocks in at almost the same price as a tank in 40k? It’s like GW is advertising just how good the cocaine is at their executive meetings.

Page 37: New Releases:  Goblin King throwing a minion…in FINECAST(TM). I have the plastic version of the king that comes with The Hobbit starter box. I’ll take a pass: one testicle-chinned herald of Nurgle is enough for my collection right now.

Pgs 38-41: New Releases:  Black Library:  A Gotrek and Felix book not written by Bill King??? INCONCEIVABLE! Also, with the new Yarrick novel, there are now three 40k book series that are written around specifically from the viewpoint of an Imperial Guard Commissar…one of which (Ciaphas Cain) is also released this month. Also out this month: a Gotrek & Felix omnibus, a Mephiston novel and a duo-book with Space Wolves and Blood Angels stories in it. Looks to be a pretty good reading month.

Pgs 42-43: New Releases: Forge World:  Voss Pattern Lighting (flyer) and WH30k Marine Legions Champion and Master of Signals models. It’s very hard for me to tell whether the marine models are painted with extreme field wear on their armour or if the quality of the castings on these examples is exceptionally crappy. Perhaps they were just painting them with chunky paints?

Pgs 44-45: New Releases:  Digital Products & Fantasy Flight Games:  Download the new Warriors of Chaos codex or this issue of White Dwarf. 

*puts on conspiracy hat*

I for one, am curious how many more months the paper edition will suffer “delays” before GW starts making mention that the e-version of the magazine won’t ever be late or held up. As for Fantasy Flight Games, another Talisman expansion and adventures for two 40k RPGs: Deathwatch and Only War. 

Pgs 46-47: New Releases Summary:  Full listing of this month’s extensive releases–with their prices listed!

I should mention again how I REALLY NEED to use Games Workshop for converting my US funds into Canadian funds: I’d make 17-25% more money than when I follow the actual currency exchange rates! (Because that’s what GW calculates the value of the US Greenback being over the Canadian dollar…even though we’ve been hovering around parity for a few years now–and it’s not the same as Australia where GW has infrastructure and manufacturing present in the country (and following that country’s wages and taxes etc). GW Hobby Centres in Canada are nothing more than company-owned importers, and independent stores are just foreign purchasers….but I’ll stop my rant here.

Pgs 48-49: Advert: GW Online Store.

Pgs 50-55: Army of the Month: Paul Gayner’s Crimson Heralds Space Marine army.

Pgs 56-57: Standard Bearer “You should do what you want to do, and don’t let others tell you what you can’t do.” Very good advice from Jervis this month…though it does come off as a bit rich–but I don’t blame Jervis: there’s a disconnect between what he says and how GW the company acts.

Jervis eschews the homogenisation of the hobby (and strongly hints that the serial tournament players shoulder most of the blame…I’m not so sure he’s wrong about that either), yet Games Workshop continues to cast their baleful eye on all things Space Marines: there was a time where most people had one marine army in their collection and some who played none; these days, most people play one or more marine-flavoured armies exclusively …and some people might own just one marine army. If that’s not homogenisation of the game, I don’t know what is.

But this matter is a topic for another rant entirely.

Pgs 58-73: Battle Report – Warhammer:  Warriors of Chaos versus Orcs and Goblins, featuring Hidden Deployment! Awesome! I’m a great believer in adding elements to games that remove the predictability of army lists. The best generals adapt and overcome. All the list builders who try to make their armies as reliable as possible should just accept the fact that they cannot emotionally cope with the fundamental tenet of these dice & miniatures games: players have to roll dice. Perhaps a switch to chess, where all the terrible randomness has already been removed, would make their lives less sorry…but that’s a rant for a different post entirely and doesn’t really belong in the paragraph where I’m talking about the battle report where despite having a new book out this month, the Warriors of Chaos were defeated by the Orcs & Goblins.

What I also liked about this battle report was the post-game ruminations by not only both players (Andrew Kenrick and Jeremy Vetock) but also two ‘Dwarf staffers and the Warriors of Chaos army book author, Robin Cruddace.

Pgs 74-77: Blanchitsu:  John Blanche brings on awesomeness that simply drips what 40k’s grimdark should be:IG by Blanchecreepiness combined with an overriding sense of hopelessness. John Blanche excels at this, and a customer who was flipping through this issue at the store even off-the-cuff remarked how he didn’t care for Blanche’s models because of the dark and unsettling tone they possess! The Factotum Eraxaus Parnor (click on thumbnail to the right) model on page 77 seals the deal for me.

Pgs 78-79: Hall of Fame:  Space Marine Sternguard Veteran.

Pgs 80-95: Parade GroundUK Golden Demon, 2012:  Last month’s issue (which I haven’t even had a chance to read yet!) covered Golden Demon winners across the world, while this month’s fifteen pages of Golden Demons are focused solely on the UK’s 2012 Games Day. Astounding works, all of them.

Pgs 96-101: Kit Bash:  Iron Chef style, the “secret ingredient” this month is Warhammer 40,000 Command Squads. I originally said it back with Kit Bash‘s first article, I’ll say it again: I really do appreciate that all the conversions are presented as expertly painted creations foremost and the work-in-progress shots are added only for extra detail. This month we’re presented with a Tau Battlesuit and its Bodyguard plus examples of command squads for WH30k Sons of Horus Legion, Dark Angels, Imperial Fists, Solar Hawks and The Remnants Space Marine Chapters.  What’s that about the danger of the hobby becoming very homogenised, Jervis?

Pgs 102-109: Battleground:  “Four of the best entries from the 2012 Armies on Parade competition at the UK Games Day.”  And they are indeed all fantastic! Interestingly enough, each is also rather…tall and features a LARGE building as a prominent vertical features on the display boards. It looks like if you want to place at your GW Hobby Centre’s next Armies on Parade competition, plan on a board that’s at least sixteen inches tall….more likely twenty-four.

Pgs 110-117: Paint Splatter:  All things Warriors of Chaos are covered before branching out into painting litanies of faith on 40k battle flags (etc) and how to paint this month’s Hobbit releases, the Grim Hammer Dwarves and the Knights of Rivendell.

Pgs 118-119: Jeremy Vetock:  I think I really like Jeremy Vetock, and I think he does (and brings) a lot of good for Games Workshop. So it’s kind of sad that this month’s article comes across more as him shilling the company’s terrain kits than anything else. I don’t doubt his sincerity–and I myself love their terrain kits, but this article read like how late-night infomercials watch.

Page 120: Advert: “Follow us on Facebook….and Twitter!”

Pgs 121-123: Advert:  Games Workshop Hobby Centres! Also: GW Hobby Centre “birthday” celebrations.

Pgs 124-125: Advert:  GW advertises that their products are carried by independent stores, and encourages YOU to encourage your local store to carry GW products.

Pgs 126-135: Advert:  Listings of GW Hobby Centres (worldwide) and GW Independent Stockists (North America).

Page 136: Advert:  …Have you considered having your White Dwarf magazines mailed to you every month? Or just paying for them now and picking them up at our Hobby Centre?

Pgs 137-151: This Month In…

-White Dwarf:  A fairly banal run-down of what each staffer at White Dwarf was painting / playing in the month leading up to this issue (so, what they were doing 4-5 months ago). The highlight is the megabattle run by Jeremy Vetock. I’d certainly entertain the idea of running something similar in the store…

-The Design Studio:  GW design staff talk about what went into making the Warriors of Chaos new releases for this month.

-Around the Studio:  Not much more than a few snapshots of things mentioned elsewhere in the book (such as Jeremy Vetock’s purple-themed Orc & Goblin army). Ho-hum.

-Forge World:  Shots of the new Garviel Loken and Ezekyle Abaddon models being put out by Forge World. Also some shots of the half-completed (possibly more) Necron-themed tile for the Realm of Battle board.

-Black Library:  Adam Troke interviews the Chains of Golgotha and Mephiston author, David Annandale.

Page 152 & Inside Back Cover:  Parting shot: a picture of the Necron croissant-shaped flying vehicle with the quote, “Superior technology does not guarantee victory unless wielded by a superior being.” Well, judging from the amount of Necron Flying Circuses I’ve heard were present at many top tournaments, I’d wager having superior technology still helps out a lot. The inside back cover is a “hobby calendar” for the month of February; though generally bare, I think this is the better place to list all the GW Hobby Centre “birthday celebrations” rather than full-page adverts in the magazine.

Thoughts on the Issue

As I’ve said elsewhere in this post, I didn’t have enough spare moments during the Christmas retail season I was able to dedicate to reading the December and January issues of the White Dwarf. So really, this issue is only the second one I’ve read since the “big format change.” But this issue being the fourth month of the new format, I’m really able to see how well all the new changes have stuck.

All in all, things seem pretty good; I can tell they adopted set themes for set articles (for now)–which is good! I’m glad to see the Kit Bash article going the direction it’s going; I’m glad that John Blanche is continuing with the miniatures painting and converting articles he’s doing. I even like that Jervis Johnson’s article happens quite early in the magazine; it sets a nicer tone to read his musings just after all the new releases are covered, rather than what felt like an “in closing” column, back when it was nearer the end of each issue.

As for making each month strongly themed towards the game system that gets the Big Release for that month, I’m still on the fence: doing it this way means there’s almost no reason for a 40k player to pick up this issue with its focus right now being on Warhammer’s Warriors of Chaos–and certainly there’s NO reason at all for a Hobbit / Lord of the Rings player (if such a beast even exists) to buy this issue at all. That said, perhaps it’s more fair to players of each system to give them a full issue of content followed by a one or two month break from the magazine–unless they so choose to buy it. Thinking of it that way, it sure does seem like a smart and fair way of doing the magazine.

Which of course begs the question, “So why would Games Workshop being doing that then?”

 

STREET BEEF

I said it at the start of this review: this issue is poly-bagged….and yet there are no “extras” included with the magazine –hunh??

I’m clearly too lazy to dig up where I read it, but I seem to recall a boastful comment being made that the NEW White Dwarf would include a cool thing with each month’s poly bagged issue. Now, considering that it was a poster-checklist of product (debatable value) being included with the last two months of White Dwarf, I’m not too upset by the lack of a prize with this month’s magazine. However, the concern that I voiced back at the first month of the new format was that the cynic in me has decided each issue is being poly bagged so consumers must buy the book before knowing what’s inside each issue. Which, if true (will we ever know?), just reaffirms the sense I keep getting: that while GW may talk about how awesome all their stuff is, their actions show far less confidence in the superiority of their product.

It’s not a big beef, but it does point to a worrying possibility: that White Dwarf can’t keep up this creative momentum. If they run out of ideas for prizes to include with the magazine in the poly bag after only three months, how much longer can any of its more creativity-demanding articles last? Hopefully I’m just paranoid.

(Trying to) Get Back up on That (Painting) Horse

Posted by Kyle.
Kyle avatar - fixed

If you frequent the Imaginary Wars Facebook page,

you’ll likely have seen the post I made onJanuary 22nd:

HG in RL

Imaginary Wars is growing a Heavy Gear community and trying to get as many interested people to get started at roughly the same time! Here’s how it works:
The campaign will grow by 300 points every two weeks for a period of 6 weeks. League gaming days will be every Friday and Saturday each week: with gaming times being Fridays 5:00-9:00pm and Saturdays noon until 7:00pm (Saturdays tend to work better when players arrange ahead of time when to meet up). Our hope is to have the league culminate with a small tournament within a few weeks of the league’s sixth week.
Priority Levels of the forces playing (which determines what can and can’t be included in an army) will be level 1, 2 or 3 –players’ choice.
The BIG catch is that unpainted models will NOT be permitted–hence the two-week period for gaming / getting your next 300 points prepared & painted. (It needs to be pointed out that for *most* of the forces in the game, 300 points is about 5-10 models, and for some of the game’s forces…it is less.)
It should also be pointed out that help on deciding how to spend your 300 points is available at through the “Gear Garage” army-building program available for free from Dream Pod 9 (the makers of Heavy Gear: http://www.dp9.com/ ).
Further help will also be readily available from the staff at Imaginary Wars AND from any of the league players–we want to see this awesome game grow!

The store’s post included the picture above as well as the video below. Sure, sure; the mecha in the video don’t really mesh up with the mecha in the Heavy Gear universe, but still… a life-size fully functioning mecha is just too cool to not include in a post concerning Heavy Gear. Plus, the fact that the pilots sit in the chest of the machine sells me even further on the designing of the giant robot suit. 

I also like that the machine’s builders  gave it wheeled movement. Even though it’s not the “rollerblading” that Gears do as their secondary mode of transportation, the fact that the Kuratas is a wheeled vehicle just brings it that much closer to Heavy Gear.

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SO …with it being so long since I’ve mentioned Heavy Gear, why the sudden attraction to the game once again? First off, I’ve always liked the game and its setting…even despite my limited patience with anime and manga. Well, apart from a relatively short hiatus–the few years working for Games Workshop in the early 2,ooos and through to just before I opened Imaginary Wars–I’ve been championing Heavy Gear pretty much from when the game first hit the market.

I got into the game right from its initial entry in the market as a Roleplaying Game with decent tactical rules covering battles utilizing the gears, and I’ve been playing it / paying attention to it all the way up to its most recent version of Locked and Loaded. Given just how long I’ve liked and played this game, I would be remiss to not rise to the challenge of painting up 300 points of Gears every two weeks….especially because I’m of the opinion that painting up 300 points of models is not an insurmountable task (despite what some have said on the Dream Pod 9 forum’s thread concerning this topic).

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Am I Tempting Fate and Daring Myself to fail?

Quite likely I am.

God knows I’ve been too busy to get any real painting done since I started up Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies, but if I’m not kicking myself in the pants about this, who will? (That and it’s my New Years business resolution to involve myself more in the hobby.)

HG SouthernSidewinder01

HG Naga

I’ve liked the Southern Gears since I first played the game, the Naga Strider and Sidewinder Gear being my two favourites. While it was the Naga’s look that I liked from first blush, it was through the repeated tactical battles that endeared the Sidewinder to me: the thing is awesome.

So what am I going to paint up?

Well, this is the tricky part; I’m a bit of a Luddite and prefer printed material over reading pdfs on my smart phone. Because I have no real interest in an E-reader or tablet at the moment–my desktop rig and actual books generally serve me well enough. So I’m in a bit of a tight spot: Dream Pod 9 has completely revised the Southern Republic rules with their “Forged in Fire – Southern Field Guide” source book. It’s the new book for all armies of the south, and it’s a complete overhaul–built anew from the ground up to match the look, style and substance of the NuCoal source book (which is a good thing, a very very good thing). However, as far as I can tell and despite its December 2012 release date, it’s only been released for sale in pdf format so far. I’m still waiting for the book to come out in its print edition  …heck, as a retailer, I still waiting for DP9 to update their product order sheet: I’m still stuck using the October 19th update that lists all their November, December and January releases as “coming soon.” First world problems, I know.

Though not the end of the world, this does make my ability to construct a legal Southern army a tricky venture. In recognizing that, I’ll just make up my first 300 point squad (or two) using the Gear Garage application (available off the DP9 website–which is cool ….but NOT updated to include the new Forged in Fire source book–which is not cool) and hopefully when Forged in Fire is available in a low-tech format my army won’t be utterly illegal. Not content with playing  a simple Southern Republic army, I’ve also decided to make my army part of a specific country in the Southern Republic: the Eastern Sun Emirates. Though a little more complicated in composition, it’s my hope the way E.S.E. forces are comprised may actually mitigate some of the potential snags I might hit when my list makes the jump from the Locked & Loaded list to the Forged in Fire list.

So it boils down to me being forced to build an army with an out-of-date army book all while the newer book is almost visible on the horizon. Being an Eldar player, it’s a scenario I’ve gotten used to.

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Southern Republic: The Eastern Sun Emirates

I’ve chosen to play an Eastern Sun Emirates army. What does that mean? Well, in the words of Dream Pod 9:

heavy Gear ESE Logo

The Eastern Sun Emirates is an entire league governed by a feudal system based on noble titles handed down from an ancient starship crew that settled on Terra Nova after Earth withdrew its support to the colonies.
Each Eastern Sun Emirates Guard force is unique as it is part of, or possibly the entirety of, a particular Emir’s personal military force. Some Emirs spend massive amounts of their citizen’s taxes on grand armies, while others maintain modest forces of bodyguards, mercenaries, or police forces.
An Eastern Sun Emirates Guard force is generally the private army every Emir is obligated to build and maintain. As such, these forces can vary widely in size and composition. Some Emirs may focus on elite Gears to give them a powerful crushing fist to defeat opponents while others may equip forces of infantry and lighter gears to maintain peace and garrison territory. A unique aspect of this system is that each Emir is free to make arrangements with other governments of Terra Nova and may allow units from other factions into their domain or even buy non-native Gear models outright for their arsenal. ESE factions select a nation that have an ‘agreement’ with and can take a selection of special units from that nation.
In Heavy Gear Blitz, forces from the Easter Sun Emirates have three major rules that make them attractive to gamers. The first is the ‘Honour Guard’ rule that allows a specific Combat Group to be taken outside the normal Priority Level rules and makes a related type of combat group a core choice. Another rule allows an ESE force to take several older Heavy Gear models. While these units are not as powerful one-on-one as the more elite Gears, an ESE force can overwhelm opponents with numbers. The third rule represents the ESE’s unusual makeup as each Emir can have ties to other forces anywhere on Terra Nova. An ESE force selects another faction it has ties to and can take a limited selection from that faction. An ESE force might field Northern Grizzlies or Peace River Coyotes to represent the Emir’s political allies or just Gears bought at outrageous prices on the black market.

My Own Private Emirates Army

After playing around with Gear Garage a little, I’ve decided to skip choosing my Honour Guard just yet–not a big deal considering the “army I’m making is 300 points; I’d like to wrap my mind around this Eastern Suns Emirates force (not to mention re-acquaint myself with Heavy Gear again) before I commit to an Honour Guard….which is also not too big of a deal yet as I’m starting off with my force being Priority Level 3, meaning what my core choices are will have little bearing on my list right now. I have, however, decided to choose my Emir’s political ties: I’ve chosen to max out my modeling options and opt for ties with the C.N.C.S. (Confederated Northern City States–the “North”).

The first 300 points of my force don’t betray the dealings my Emir has with the North; I’ve opted for a General Purpose Gear squad and a Strider squad–which TOTALLY allows me to field the machines I’ve always wanted to! So at the first 300 points, this is what my force looks like:

HG First 300 pts

I think I like it–though I expect this force might struggle initially, seeing as how I’ve apparently decided I’d rather have a little of everything rather than going firmly one direction or another. Jack of all trades, master of none and all that. Still, we shall see. Now all that remains is to see what’s in my collection and get it built & painted within the next 11 days! I’ll post photos and works in progress as I get models bought, assembled and completed.